HCQ shortage in city: FDA asks manufacturers to ramp up production

MUMBAI: A shortage of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), the anti-malarial being used to treat Covid-19 patients in the city, is posing a major hurdle. To address the issue, the Food Drugs and Administration (FDA) met HCQ manufacturers on Thursday and instructed them to step up production of the medicine, which is currently considered a weapon in fighting coronavirus.

In India, the ICMR has allowed it to be prescribed to all healthcare workers on Covid-19 duty, and asymptomatic household contacts of those infected, as prophylaxis.

In the last week of April, a Maharashtra government notification had prescribed the drug with strict monitoring, for health workers and staffers, civic workers as well as people involved in handling quarantine centres, infected patients and containment zones.

Dr Deepak Baid, president, Association of Medical Consultants (AMC), said for the past two weeks there has been huge demand for HCQ, following which stocks at private nursing homes and medical stores have been exhausted.

“There have been many instances where we could not administer HCQ to Covid patients as there was none left. The government should ensure that private nursing homes have adequate stocks for their patients,” he said.

“Since the government ordered that HCQ should be given to health workers, civic officials and close contacts of Covid patients, they have procured all medicines in bulk, leaving patients with arthritis and lupus unable to procure medicines,” Dr Baid added.

Taking note of the shortage, the FDA also held a meeting with the HCQ manufacturers, instructing them to increase the supply. “With growing cases of Covid-19, there is a huge demand for HCQ, so we instructed the manufacturers to increase their production on Thursday,” said a senior FDA official.

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