As the number of coronavirus positive cases are increasing each day, the demand for hydroxychloroquine, one of the drugs known to have worked in the treatment of Covid-19 patients, has increased globally. As India is a leading manufacturer of this drug, many countries, including the US, have urged the Indian government to increase its exports of the drug, even as India balances this demand with its domestic needs.
With increased global demand, many people in the country are afraid that India might run out of hydroxychloroquine, which is also used to treat other medical conditions and diseases, in the near future. To ease these worries, the government will launch the Covid-med online portal to will help citizens know about the access points for Covid-19 drug hydroxychloroquine. Using the portal, individuals can check availability of stock at nearby pharmacies and plan visits accordingly.
The decision is expected to help thousands in India that don’t have access to the drug even after India eased restrictions of its export last week. The government is going to provide availability information in a district-wise manner.
National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA), India’s drug pricing regulator, has asked all pharmacy stores across the country to update the availability of hydroxychloroquine on the online portal. Besides Covid-19, hydroxychloroquine is also used to treat malaria and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
As of now, the government is looking to list only hydroxychloroquine and has plans to add azithromycin on the online portal, according to an ET report. The portal is expected to list other medications in the future as well. The data on the portal will also be updated every day to provide up to date information about the availability of hydroxychloroquine.
Besides retailers, the portal will also monitor the availability of the drug at all distribution channels including cost and freight (C&F) agents, depot, distributors, and wholesalers. S Eswara Reddy, the joint drug controller, has already floated a notice asking all drug sale licence holders to register on Covid-med.
NPPA chairperson Shubhra Singh said that India has enough stock of azithromycin and manufacturing capacity of hydroxychloroquine formulation to meet country’s requirement as well as export demands. Singh said that a team led by NPPA is reviewing the availability of stocks of these drugs on a daily basis. “NPPA will cater to export demands only after satisfying domestic consumption,” Singh said.