India recently announced that it had lifted its previous ban on the export of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which in recent times is being used in countries like the U.S. as a possible line of treatment for COVID-19.
“In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities. We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations that have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
The government, in a notification on March 25, placed HCQ on a restricted items list, and then put a blanket ban on any export of the drug on April 4. The latest decision, which was taken at a high-level meeting on April 6, effectively overturns the previous notification.
The Ministry of external affairs annouced the news just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump said that India could face “retaliation” if it withheld supplies of HCQ for which the U.S., Brazil and other countries have already placed advance orders.
“I spoke to Mr. Modi yesterday, a good talk. I would be surprised if India refused to supply HCQ, because India does very well by the U.S. For many years they have been taking advantage of the United States on trade….I spoke to him and said, we appreciate your allowing the supply to come out. If he doesn’t allow it come out, that would be ok, but of course there may be retaliation, why wouldn’t there be?” Mr. Trump said at a press conference.