New Delhi: Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director Balrama Bhargava recommended using Hydroxychloroquine for treatment of healthcare workers engaged in tackling the suspected as well as confirmed cases of coronavirus. The medicine is also effective in COVID-19 treatment of the asymptomatic household contacts of the lab-confirmed cases.
The treatment protocol recommended by the National Task Force has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) for restricted use in emergency situations.
Commenting on the lockdown initiated by several states to contain the coronavirus infection, a health ministry official said the states have been told to order superintendents of police and district magistrates to enforce the lockdown strictly.
"Partial lockdown defeats the purpose of breaking the chain of transmission of novel coronavirus," the official said.
On private laboratories being allowed to conduct testing for COVID-19, Bhargava said 12 private-lab chains have been registered and have started working after being allowed the testing.
These 12 labs have 15,000 collection centres, he said.
So far the country has reported 415 cases, the health ministry officials said, adding the death toll stands at seven.
The anti-malarial drug (Hydroxychloroquine), has now become the most sought after medicine after reports emerged that it is proving effective in the fight against coronavirus.
It is being claimed that Hydroxychloroquine has disappeared from the drug stores in Indore and some even claim that the drug is being supplied to the United States.
As per the initial study, chloroquine treatment of COVID-19 patients had clinical and virologic benefit versus a comparison group. Chloroquine was added as a recommended antiviral for COVID-19 treatment, though clinical trials are still going on.
Sources said that pharmaceutical company Ipca Laboratories share price surged over 12 percent on Monday after the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) partially lifted the import ban on chloroquine supply. Ipca Laboratories manufactures chloroquine. It has also informed the BSE and the NSE about the demand for the drug in the US.
It has said in the filing to the exchanges that due to the shortage implications or medical necessity of certain drugs and finished products, the FDA has made an exception to the import of the company's Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and finished products including Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate and Chloroquine Phosphate produced at the Company's manufacturing units. The demand for drugs for COVID-19 treatment is escalating high.
The president of Indore Drug Association told IANS, "it is true that this drug is not available over the counter in Indore."
However, Ipca lab refused to answer queries on the US demand for the drug saying it is a corporate matter.
(With Agency Inputs)