New Delhi: The country’s largest manufacturers of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) — Ipca laboratories and Zydus Cadila — have bagged orders from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to supply around 10 crore tablets.
India is a leading player across the globe in the manufacturing of HCQ with Ipca laboratories, Zydus Cadila and Wallace Pharmaceuticals as top pharma companies.
Presently, the country’s production capacity is 20 crore tablets every month.
Shubhra Singh, chairman, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), a drug price and availability watchdog, is confident of the drugmakers production capabilities. “We are capable of producing 40 metric tons of HCQ every month (which means 20 crore pills of 200 mg). The drugmakers have built good production capacities as it is also used for rheumatoid arthritis,” she told ThePrint.
“We have confirmed that there are enough stocks across the country and the manufacturers have started supplying the drugs for government orders. If HCQ proves further relevance, its production can be jacked up,” she said.
The Centre has placed the order after the country’s apex health research body, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommended HCQ be used as a preventive medication for Covid-19 high risk group.
ICMR has also recommended the use of the drug for those involved in the care of ‘suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirus and for asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory confirmed patients, apart from healthcare workers who are involved in the treatment of Covid-19.’
A mail sent to IPCA laboratories and Zydus Cadila did not fetch a response till the time of publishing.
HCQ could be a game changer
US President Donald Trump has called chloroquine a potential “game changer” for treating the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-COV-2. Hydroxychloroquine is a derivative of chloroquine, with lesser side-effects.
Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) partially lifted a three-year-old ‘import alert’ on Ipca’s two plants to import the medicine. Zydus Cadila has also received a “sizeable” order from the US for the decades-old drug.
Cadila’s spokesperson earlier told ThePrint that the company can “even quadruple our capacities if need be as we are fully integrated to produce both API and finished dose formulation. We believe that we will be able to cater to the requirements as we are among the few companies in the world who have capabilities to manufacture the drug in large quantities.”
FDA commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn said the regulator is preparing to test chloroquine in a clinical trial with coronavirus patients.