Amid spike in demand for anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) which is being used in Covid19 treatment, the central government has supplied 1.10 lakh tablets to Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited hasreceived the first consignment two days back.
The drug has been touted as a potential "game-changer" forcoronavirus by US President Donald Trump, although several international healthexperts say that its effectiveness on treating the disease is still unproven.
"Central government has supplied us 1.10 lakh tablets ofhydroxychloroquine, of which 60 thousands are for Kashmir and 50 thousandtablets for Jammu division," said Dr. Mohammad Iqbal, General Manager J&KMedical Supplies Corporation Limited, which is entrusted to procure and supplydrugs to government-run hospitals.
"In coming days we will receive more supply of thismedicine. Distribution of hydroxychloroquine tablets in Kashmir division hasbeen started to healthcare institutions," he said.
The health department officials have urged people not to payheed to rumours of shortage of this drug. India is a leading player across theglobe in the manufacturing of HCQ with Ipca laboratories, Zydus, Cadila andWallace Pharmaceuticals as top pharma companies. Presently, the country'sproduction capacity is 20 crore tablets every month. Indian Council of MedicalResearch (ICMR) has recommended HCQ be used as a preventive medication forCovid-19 high risk group. ICMR has also recommended the use of the drug forthose involved in the care of 'suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirusand for asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory confirmed patients, apartfrom healthcare workers who are involved in the treatment of Covid19.'
However virologists and infectious disease experts havedifferent opinions, they have cautioned people about the use ofhydroxychloroquine, as there have been no complete clinical trials to see howthe drug behaves in patients.
"Those rushing to buy and stock (err hoard)hydroxychloroquine may note that there is only a weak evidence for its use andits approval comes in wake of absence of clearly effective and safealternatives. Patients with other diseases (RA etc) need it and must find it instores (Sic)," tweeted Dr Parvaiz Koul, Head of Chest Medicine department atSher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura. The Modi-led governmenthas given nod to supply paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine in "appropriatequantities" to all neighbouring countries and nations who badly need the medicinesin wake of coronavirus crisis. The Ministry of External Affairs' announcementon Tuesday came after United States President Donald Trump threatened"retaliation" if India refused to supply these essential medicines.