Odishatv Bureau

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres salutes India and all countries that are helping others in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, according to his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

Asked by a reporter at his daily briefing on Thursday about India sending aid to several countries facing the COVID-19 pandemic, Dujarric said: "The secretary-general calls for global solidarity in this struggle against the virus. That means that every country who is in a position to help another country should. We salute those countries that are doing so."

India has offered to help member countries of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and has sent medicines to several countries, including the US, Brazil and Israel.

India has sent its military health professionals to Kuwait and Maldives to help deal with the pandemic.

In contrast to the UN reaction, within India the sending of hydroxychloroquine to the US has been criticised by Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi and others from his organisation.

COVID-19: Enough Stock Of Hydroxychloroquine In India: Centre

The government on April 10 had said that there is enough stock of hydroxychloroquine in the country and it is taking all steps to ensure that there is no shortage of the drug in the domestic market.

India is the biggest manufacturer of the anti-malarial drug that is being touted as ‘game changer’ in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is enough stock of hydroxychloroquine in the country and we are tracking its demand, availability and production on a daily basis,” National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) Chairman Shubhra Singh told PTI.

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India is the world’s largest manufacturer of the drug, which is used for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, malaria and lupus, she added.

“Ensuring the availability of the drug in the country is our first priority. Only after meeting the demand here, the exports are being done,” Singh said.

She, however, cautioned that the medicine should only be taken on the advice of doctors.

India manufactures 70 per cent of the world’s supply of hydroxychloroquine. Companies like IPCA and Zydus Cadila are the major manufacturers of hydroxychloroquine in the country.

The Indian pharmaceutical industry earlier this week said there is enough stock of hydroxychloroquine in the country and drug firms are ready to ramp up the production to meet domestic as well as export requirements.

India currently has an annual installed capacity of around 40 tonnes of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) of hydroxychloroquine. With this capacity, it can make around 200 million tablets of 200 mg, which can be ramped up, the Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA) had said.

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The production capacity in the country is sufficient to meet the current demand. If the need arises, the companies are committed to ramp up production, the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance had earlier told PTI.

India on Tuesday had decided to partially lift the ban on the export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine in sync with its global commitment to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

(With Agency Inputs)