India Bans Export of Malaria Drug US Doctors Are Prescribing to Patients With New Virus

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
March 25, 2020Updated: March 25, 2020

India banned exports of a drug known as a malaria treatment after doctors in some countries began prescribing it to patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade announced Wednesday that the export of both hydroxycloroquine and formulations made from the drug are banned, effective immediately.

The Ministry of External Affairs can recommend exceptions to the ban on humanitarian grounds, the notification stated. Some exports will also be permitted to fulfill existing orders.

Companies in India produce major amounts of hydroxycloroquine as well as components of the drug, and increased demand for the treatment prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to lift an import ban on Ipca Laboratories, an Indian drug maker cited for insufficient manufacturing facilities, so the company could export the drug and one of its ingredients.

The new move blocks Ipca and other companies from exporting the drug or its ingredients. There are shortages of hydroxycloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, in the United States, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

India previously blocked exports of ventilators and masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities there this week recommended hydroxycloroquine for high-risk groups, including healthcare workers.

Epoch Times Photo
French professor Didier Raoult, biologist and professor of microbiology, specialist in infectious diseases and director of IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute, in his office in Marseille, southeastern France on Feb. 26, 2020. Raoult reported that after treating 24 patients for six days with Plaquenil, the virus had disappeared in all but a quarter of them. The research was not peer reviewed and Raoult had come under fire by some scientists and officials in his native France for potentially raising false hopes. (Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images)


Doctors in France and the United States are prescribing hydroxycloroquine after a small study in France suggested the drug has efficacy in treating COVID-19.

No vaccine exists for the new illness and researchers around the world are racing to study existing drugs to try to find at least one that can treat it.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said on Tuesday that doctors can prescribe hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for “off-label use,” or a use other than the ones they’re approved for.

“Doctors can now prescribe chloroquine for that off-label purpose of dealing with the symptoms of coronavirus. We are making that clear across the country,” Pence said during a virtual town hall in Washington.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier that hydroxychloroquine is being used in hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients.

Pharmacy boards in some states in the country, though, have banned or restricted the use of the drug outside of its intended use.

hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine tablets are shown in at the IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute in Marseille, France on Feb. 26, 2020. (Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images)


Some medical experts have cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine until other trials are completed.

Researchers in the United States and elsewhere through the World Health Organization are looking at how safe and effective they are against the virus, with a particular focus on hydroxychloroquine.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said he was banning the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine as treatments for the new illness in part because “there is no consensus among COVID-19 experts or Nevada’s own medical health advisory team” that the drugs are effective.

The emergency regulation he signed was also aimed at preventing hoarding of the drugs, he said.

“This emergency regulation is a strong step in protecting patients. While studies are underway on the usefulness of these drugs in treating COVID-19, we must deal with facts, not fiction,” Dr. Ishan Azzam, the chief medical officer for the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health, said in a statement. “Preserving these drugs for those who need it is the right decision.”