Pharma units in limbo amid confusion over HCQ exports 

#GS2 #Governance 

Despite Ministry’s nod, DGFT ban on drug sales continues 

  • A week after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced that it would “license” the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and supply it to various countries on a “government to government basis”, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) maintains that the drug is still prohibited for export, causing some confusion in industry circles. 
  • There is huge capacity in our industry for both HCQ and paracetamol production. But our manufacturers, especially the MSMEs and SMEs are confused about the process, given the DGFTs notification banning exports. 

Stuck in warehouses 

  • Some small exporters have tonnes of finished goods lying in their FG warehouses and some at ports which is not being exported because of lack of clarity on the procedure. 
  • We are receiving many queries from various manufacturers due to this discrepancy; there is no transparency in the process at present as nothing is on paper officially. 
  • The first shipment of HCQ landed in the U.S.’s Newark airport on Sunday, a week after Mr. Trump had called PM Modi to ask for the release of the drug orders placed by the US. 
  • As a result many manufacturers, especially smaller companies, say customs officials are not clearing their consignments of HCQ and paracetamol. 
  • India is the lead producer for HCQ, an anti-malarial drug, while Indian-made paracetamol is used as a fever medication worldwide. 
  • The sources pointed to a number of hurdles in exports, at a time when global demand is at its highest. 
  • Others said that none of the major markets in Africa, Latin America, and CIS countries had yet been cleared for the export of HCQ, at a time when demand from them is at its peak. 

Global market 

  • The Indian pharmaceutical industry has been painstakingly built over 25 years with a market of $22 billion to 206 countries.  
  • It would be a tragedy if we are not allowed to use our strength at this time when the world needs these products, by placing orders and even paying in advance and still unable to get these spareable medicines with huge capacity in India. 
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