India said on Wednesday that it is banning the export of hydroxychloroquine and formulations made from the medication.
The efficiency of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, is being tested in the treatment of patients infected with COVID-19. Most patients, however, receive only supportive care, as there are currently no approved treatments or vaccines.
“Chloroquine has demonstrated toxicity in certain patients. You have to tread with caution because there is no comprehensive data to prove it works”, said the chairman of the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India. The group said India faced no shortages of the drug but companies were facing shortages of staff to run operations.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists earlier said hydroxychloroquine was in shortage.
India on Sunday imposed a nationwide curfew from in an effort to break the chain of infections. The country of some 1.3 billion people has more than 550 confirmed cases of the virus and a dozen deaths. The number in cases is considered to be higher, as a low number of tests has been performed so far.
India is the world’s largest supplier of generic drugs. Earlier this month, the country restricted the export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and the medicines made from them, but has since relaxed some of those restrictions.