After pressing the federal health officials to make malaria drugs available to treat patients suffering from novel coronavirus, US President Donald Trump's threatening remarks against India warning it to release the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine drug has raised many questions.
"I spoke to him (PM Modi) on Sunday morning and I said we appreciate it that you are allowing our supply (of Hydroxychloroquine) to come out if he doesn't allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course, there may be retaliation, why wouldn't there be?" Trump had said during COVID-19 taskforce briefing from the White House.
Trump is vouching for hydroxychloroquine
Recently, Trump had asked the press "What do you have to lose? Take it," while speaking about using hydroxychloroquine, which is unproven as a treatment for coronavirus, yet. While arguing against him waiting to complete the clinical trials he said, "In France, they had a very good test. But we don't have time to go and say, 'Gee, let's take a couple of years and test it out, and let's go and test with the test tubes and the laboratories.'"
Another tweet from Trump stated: "HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains - Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents)....be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE!"
Trump also looked like he was pressing for the use of this drug through his series of tweets. Reports claim that in the history of US presidents, rarely anyone has lobbied for use of unproven drugs.
Trump had also said that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved the use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus. But shortly FDA denied approving any medicine and Trump had changed his statement that the drug has been approved for "compassionate use". With this, Trump gave a green signal for doctors to prescribe the drug that is yet to be approved by the government.
What is hydroxychloroquine?
Hydroxychloroquine is a drug similar to Chloroquine, that is considered one of the oldest anti-malarial drugs. As published in BBC, the drug can treat auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus and is also contemplated on being used as a potential antiviral agent. But various reports claimed that considering it as a cure for coronavirus is a premature notion. Though there are anecdotal evidences of hydroxychloroquine helping in coronavirus treatment (as per lab studies), there have been no complete clinical trials.
Speaking to BBC, Raman R Gangakhedkar, a senior scientist with the Indian Council of Medical Research, had said that currently, the drug is not to be used by everyone. Only based on the data it will be decided if it can be publically recommended (for coronavirus patients). There were even multiple reports from Nigeria where people were being poisoned with an overdose of the drug. Studies claim that Hydroxychloroquine can have life-threatening side-effects if not given under controlled quantity and considering the patients' overall health.
After Trump's enthusiastic words on the use of the drug, many people in the US too have reported having self-administered the drug, shooting up the sale of drug online. A man in Arizona reportedly died after consuming chloroquine phosphate.
On April 4, Directorate General of Foreign Trade of India had issued a notification prohibiting the export of hydroxychloroquine and its formulations. India was considering to put the drug under the licenced category.
But following Trump's retaliation message, India had promised to consider America's demand and according to the latest report, India has decided to relax the complete ban order. Accordingly, now the decision for export of hydroxychloroquine will be made on a case-by-case basis.