Hoarding of Hydroxychloroquine leads to shortage as the same becomes a Schedule H1 drug

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Health on Thursday, through a special amendment has categorised hydroxychloroquine (HCQS) drug as a schedule H1 drug- which states that it cannot be sold as over the counter drug. The move comes as reports emerged of hoarding and shortage of this drug due to the national lockdown. The drug is prescribed as a chronic therapy for patients suffering from Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis, an auto immune disease.

The hoarding and shortage took place after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended the drug for front line workers and high risk people who were in contact with the coronavirus patient. Reports have emerged that after this notice several common people were rushing to chemist shops to self medicate.

The Health Minister’s notification said that “The Central Government is satisfied that the drug ‘Hydroxychloroquine’ is essential to meet the requirements of emergency arising due to pandemic COVID-19 and in the public interest, it is necessary and expedient to regulate and restrict the sale and distribution of the drug ‘Hydroxychloroquine’ and preparation based thereon for preventing their misuse”

The Ministry in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 26B of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (23 of 1940), the Central Government has directed that sale by retail of any preparation containing the drug Hydroxychloroquine shall be in accordance with the conditions for sale of drugs specified in Schedule H1 to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945

Drug maker IPCA, which is the largest manufacturer of HCQS tablets in India said that looking at hoarding and stock outs, the company is supplying the drugs only in hospitals.

China that used to sell these raw materials for $20 per kg, has increased the price of this to $60. Companies have requested the government to instruct state governments and local cops to intervene and allow these establishments and its people to operate.

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