Prepared to supply 10 crore tablets of Hydroxychloroquine to Indian government: IPCA Labs

Foreign ministry today said that it will lift the export ban for India's neighbouring countries and those who are largely impacted by Covid-19.

Agencies
A K Jain, Joint MD of IPCA Labs, which has nearly 70% market share of this drug in the world gives a run down on the availability.
Hydroxychloroquine, the anti inflammatory drug that is used for treating patients of Rheumatoid Arthritis has become a test case for India-US diplomatic relations. The drug has come to focus as several countries are using this drug as a preventive measure for Covid-19, despite inconclusive studies on its effectiveness. US President Donald Trump who has also been promoting this drug for Covid-19 treatment has pushed India to lift the ban on exports of Hydroxychloroquine.

India's foreign ministry today said that it will lift the export ban for India's neighbouring countries and those who are largely impacted by Covid-19. But concerns have been raised by India's opposition parties on whether India has enough supply for its own use. In an interview with Divya Rajagopal, A K Jain, Joint MD of IPCA Labs, which has nearly 70% market share of this drug in the world gives a run down on the availability. Excerpts from the interview -

What has been your conversation with the government on the supply of Hydroxychloroquine?

I have assured the government that whatever order they have given to IPCA, we will be servicing this month itself. We will do it before month end. They have given an order for around six crore tablets, so we said we will be servicing everything. In spite of logistics problem and all other problem we will make sure there is no delay in supplying the medicine.

Can you tell us the status of your active pharmaceuticals (APIs) for this drug?
I have told the government that we can supply this drug from my existing stock of API. We don’t need new production to supply. In this month itself I will get 20 tonnes more of API, India requirement is only 4 tonnes of this and we are building sufficient stock and supplying to domestic market. We will service the domestic market; we will service the government demand and whatever buffer that is needed even if the patient number goes up significantly the government has sufficient stock to cater to huge number of patients. The government has placed an order of 10 crore tablets, which we can service this month.

What commitments have you given the government?
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The government has taken written commitment from all pharma companies saying that we will ensure 100% of supply, which we have said we will deliver this month itself. Ministries are chasing us every day, batch wise how many materials you are supplying. I have already moved 1 crore tablets to the government last week, this was 2 crore tablets that I had provided to other institutions. So, in this order of 6 crore, I have already supplied 3 crore tablets.

How much stock will be left once you have serviced the domestic market?
I have sufficient stock of API now, in the current month production again I will get 20 tonnes, what will I do with that. I have to start planning. 70-80 countries are depending on us, what will happen to their Rheumatoid Arthritis patients. I have built capacity for them too. Allowing exports is also in the interest of the country as it is a specialized export. This is also the time to take global pride that in difficult times India has helped other countries.

What about supply chain issues? Has that been resolved?
There is everyday difficulty in that. I have an approved printer vendor in Silvasa, and there was one positive case in the region, which has led to the entire town being shut down. So if I have to get somebody else, I have to do vendor audit first. In pharma nothing can be introduced without vendor audit. And my quality assurance people can’t move. So these difficulties are there. Transport situation has eased. But drivers are complaining that there are no food on the way, as the Dhabas and restaurants are closed. So if someone wants to go to Sikkim from say Mumbai , it takes 8 days and you can’t carry 8 days food with you. So there are these issues.

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