Monday, 27 June, 2022
HomeHealthRestrict sales of chloroquine & other Covid-19 drugs: Chemists’ lobby tells members

Restrict sales of chloroquine & other Covid-19 drugs: Chemists’ lobby tells members

The request comes after sales of drugs like azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, lopinavir and ritonavir shot up amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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New Delhi: In a bid to prevent hoarding amid the coronavirus pandemic, India’s top pharmacists’ lobby has warned over 8.5 lakh chemists it represents across the country to restrict the sales of drugs which are being used for the treatment of Covid-19.

The sales of drugs like azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, lopinavir and ritonavir have shot up after their efficacy against the virus was highlighted by experts and political leaders, including US President Donald Trump.

“People have started hoarding medicines and self-prescribing, especially these medicines, in the last 15-20 days. On a average, people have started buying medicines for the period of three months instead of the regular purchase of one week,” Rajiv Singhal, secretary general, All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD).

In a letter titled “Please follow instructions”, the AIOCD directed its office bearers to “strictly inform or direct retail chemist members not to give azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, lopinavir and ritonavir on demand by patient unless it is prescribed by registered medical practitioner (RMP)”

The letter dated 24 March added, “…Any deviation can be viewed seriously by the drug department.”

It also said the medicines could only be dispensed on the prescription of medical practitioners having an MD degree, or a general physician, or pulmonologist. “Kindly do the needful,” it added.

ThePrint has seen the letter, which is signed by AIDOC president and general secretary, J.S. Shinde and Rajiv Singhal, respectively.

Also read: Modi’s India isn’t Mao’s China. Silly forecasts assume we’ll let corona kill millions of us

Govt moved hydroxychloroquine to schedule H1

The lobby’s letter was sent to chemists two days before the Narendra Modi government moved anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine drug under a stricter law to prevent its hoarding and unnecessary consumption.

The medicine is a derivative of decades old anti-malarial drug chloroquine.

The move came after the drug emerged as a possible “game-changer” treatment option for the pandemic Covid-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) — which is wreaking havoc across the globe.

While clinical trials to show the efficacy of the drug on a larger scale are still underway, the Modi government released an advisory on 22 March, recommending that healthcare workers and high-risk individuals can use hydroxychloroquine to prevent the infection.

The drug was already under the ‘Schedule H’ of Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 — the law which regulates the import, manufacture and distribution of drugs. It has now been moved to schedule H1 drug.

Under both schedules, the drug can be sold on prescription only. However, under H1, it is mandatory for chemists to keep a record of prescription for a period of three months from the date of sale.

Azithromycin and anti-HIV drugs

Among other drugs in consideration, antibiotic azithromycin is now being investigated as a potential treatment for people with Covid-19. It is used for the treatment of community-acquired pneumonia and other bacterial infections.

Used along hydroxychloroquine, the drug has shown efficacy in a small clinical trial, which enrolled 20 patients with Covid-19 in France. It reported a significant reduction in viral loads of the patients.

The country’s apex drug regulator, Drug Controller General of India, has also cleared the use of anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir for Covid-19. Several patients across the globe have reported benefits from treatment with a combination of both the drugs.

Lopinavir has modest anti-viral activity against SARS-CoV-2, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Also read: Lesson from Black Death: Coronavirus will transform economic life for longer than we expect


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