India has enough stocks of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and paracetamol drugs and the export of these drugs should not be a reason to panic, says Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers D.V. Sadananda Gowda. Gowda was responding to concerns raised over the export of these drugs that are now being widely used to treat COVID-19.
"Our monthly requirement of hydroxychloroquine tablets is 95 lakh tablets. And we have enough stocks for the next three months. There is steady production too. Similarly, our annual demand for azithromycin (an antibiotic) is about 2.2 crore tablets and our annual production is 9.6 crore. We also have a huge stock of paracetamol tablets—some 482 crore. We will export only the excess stocks after fulfilling the domestic needs," said Gowda, in a press statement issued on Friday.
'Demand pooling to overcome drug shortage'
The Centre has resorted to "demand pooling" of essential drugs to overcome drug shortage in some parts of the country under an extended COVID-19 lockdown.
Acknowledging there was a temporary shortage of drugs, the minister said the distribution network was disrupted due to courier companies suspending their services during the lockdown. There have been reports of shortage of some generic drugs in Jan Aushadi Kendras in remote areas.
"The depots in Chennai, Gurugram and Gauwahati will supply the drugs in special transport vehicles to the dealers in particular regions after pooling their demands. The drugs will be picked up and distributed directly from the drug-manufacturing factories too in some cases. A taskforce of senior officers and a helpline (011-23389840) have been set up to streamline the supply and distribution networks," said Gowda.