Coronavirus: Govt to launch portal to guide users of HCQ to nearest pharmacy with stock

According to reports, details of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin will be available in the portal, and the data shall be updated every day.

The Government of India is set to launch a portal to guide users of hydroxychloroquine to the nearest pharmacy that has its stock. Hydroxychloroquine, or HCQ, is an anti-malarial drug that is now being used to try and treat COVID-19.

According to media reports, details of HCQ and azithromycin will be available in the portal, and other medicines will be added later. The data shall be updated every day and information will be available district-wise. Officials have said that the IT platform will be monitoring the availability of the drug at distribution channels including C&F agents, depots, distributors, wholesalers and retailers. Additionally, notice has been sent to all drug sale license holders to register on the platform.

The objective of this portal is to make the drug available for those who need it - malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus patients. IPCA and Zydus are the major manufacturers of HCQ, and IPCA is reported to have supplied 3 crore tablets of HCQ.

YourStory reached out to Bhavik Kumar, Founder of Medibox, a B2B marketplace for medicines and other health products. Bhavik said:

"Both of these (HCQ and azithromycin) are prescription medicines. Doctors of COVID-19 specialty hospitals shall prescribe these medicines, and their pharmacies should have these medicines. Government has to ration out these medicines to COVID-19 specialty hospitals rather than making these available across every pharmacy. These are specialty prescriptive drugs that should be made available in hospitals for emergencies. If people get to know that HCQ is helped to treat COVID-19, they will unnecessarily start hoarding it in their houses."

Earlier last week, the US President Donald Trump warned of a 'retaliation' if India did not drop the ban on HCQ exports. Despite the lack of proof, HCQ is believed to be the cure for COVID-19. Following President Trump's statement, the ban was lifted on humanitarian grounds and on Sunday, April 12, a consignment of HCQ from India reached the US.


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