Don’t worry, HCQ info’s a click away


New Delhi: The government is set to launch a portal that will guide users of hydroxychloroquine — one of the drugs being tried for treating Covid-19 patients — to the nearest pharmacy that has it in stock, people in the know told ET.

The move will likely ease the worries of thousands of Indians who have been prescribed the drug for certain ailments — including malaria and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus — but are facing difficulty in getting it after India lifted a ban on its export last week.

India’s drug pricing regulator, National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA), has asked all druggists and chemists in the country to start putting in details on the portal, which is likely to be named Covid-med.

To start with, details of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin will be put in and later it may be expanded to other medicines. “Those who need hydroxychloroquine will find it easier to know the available stock and where is it available at the click of the mouse,” said a senior official who is aware of the development. The data on availability will be updated every day, the official said, adding that the information will be available district-wise.


“The objective is to make sure that the drug is available to those who need it. The IT platform will monitor availability of the drug at all distribution channels i.e. C&F agents, depot, distributors, wholesalers and retailers,” said another official.

Joint drug controller S Eswara Reddy has sent out a notice to all drug sale licence holders to register on the platform.

NPPA chairperson Shubhra Singh told ET that India has “enough stock of API and manufacturing capacity of HCQ formulation to meet country’s requirement as well as export demands.” A team led by India’s drug pricing regulator is reviewing the available stocks on a daily basis and will cater to export demands only after satisfying domestic consumption, Singh said.


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