Written byShalini Ojha ·
US President Donald Trump has declared India might face retaliation if New Delhi doesn't clear the export of Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that the United States President has touted as a "game-changer" in the battle against coronavirus.
Speaking to press at White House, Trump said he would be "surprised" if India turns down Washington's request, more so because both countries share amicable relations.
India is one of the largest manufacturers of Hydroxychloroquine; and it recently banned its export, along with other key drugs. The idea is to have enough in stock for domestic use even as its efficacy in battling COVID-19 is being judged.
Hydroxychloroquine was put under blanket ban disallowing its export even on humanitarian grounds.
Last weekend, Trump had called Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Now, the size of the order is unknown at the moment, but considering how Trump repeatedly mentions the drug, he definitely wants it in the US, sooner than later.
About Sunday's call, Trump said PM Modi would have to personally tell him if he decided to stop the supplies.
"I would be surprised if that were his (Prime Minister Narendra Modi's) decision," he added.
"I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him, and I said we'd appreciate your allowing our supply to come out. If he doesn't allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course, there may be retaliation. Why wouldn't there be," he asked.
Trump's rant was unwarranted as the reporter, to whom he answered, never mentioned India. The media personnel asked the US President if he was anticipating a retaliation since he stopped exports of some medical equipment.
Separately, this threat could be seen as a roadblock in India-US trade deal, which wasn't inked in February either when Trump came to India for his first state visit.
In the US, the top supplier of Hydroxychloroquine is Zydus Pharmaceuticals Inc., which is a subsidiary of Ahmedabad-based Cadila Healthcare Ltd. After selling 167 million units of the drug last year, the company handed over 28 million integrated units to retail and institutional channels in 2020.
Before the restrictions were put, Cadila said it was looking at increasing production to meet global demand.
Though there is no scientific evidence that Hydroxychloroquine could defeat coronavirus, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) allowed asymptomatic healthcare workers to use it.
The top medical body has, however, warned that the drug shouldn't give a sense of "security" and urged people to take all precautions, including social distancing.
US Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved its usage for COVID-19 either.
With pressure mounting, the government is likely to take a call today.
"We have decided to go ahead with the export of the drug after the Health Ministry gives its total domestic requirement plus 25% extra to ensure buffer stocks are available," a senior government official told NDTV .
The demand is being viewed as an opportunity to open US markets for Indian pharmaceutical companies.
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