On the 5th of April 2020, the United States President Donald Trump requested for the release of US order of Hydroxycholroquine which is considered as a possible relief drug for fight against COVID-19. On the very next day of request the release of excess drug was approved by the Indian government. One of the observations that one could make from such dealing is that it was not a usual diplomatic exchange between two countries. It was an exchange of special nature wherein personal rapport between the leaders of both countries has yielded a positive outcome while the fight against Covid-19 pandemic is still continuing in a collective manner globally. Due to proactive diplomatic decision making of the government India has offered a helping hand to United States which would create a mark for the country in the global diplomacy and politics. Such diplomatic exchange is a big achievement for the country which has adopted the Hindu philosophy of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam“.
While on the face it might appear that United States must have put some conditions for accepting such delivery but in this situation India was in a position to put conditions while making the delivery of relief drug. This exchange might also appear unilateral at first glance but if one observes some patterns in the Indian pharmaceutical industry then it would not be wrong to say that some dealings indeed took place which is beneficial for country’s economy and exports. Some of the major pharmaceutical exporting companies got United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) approval which would benefit these companies in selling their drugs in the US pharmaceutical market, earlier these drugs were not allowed by USFDA to be sold in the US markets. Interestingly, one of the major pharmaceutical exporter and manufacturer named as Aurobindo Pharma Ltd. got USFDA approval on 9th of April 2020 as per its press release. The approved drug which was allowed by US authority is “fluoxitine” which is used for the treatment of major depressive disorders. It is a widely consumed across United States as a prescription drug and it is one the most popular drug for treatment of depressive disorder.
The timing of such press release is important because possibly such approval had come during the release of hydroxychloroquine relief drug from India. Similarly, on the same date i.e. on 9th of April other major pharmaceutical companies like Cipla got final approval from USFDA for marketing its generic version of “Proventil Inhalation Aerosol” which is commonly used for treating respiratory diseases. Granules India Ltd. which is also a major manufacturer of pharmaceutical formulations got approval from US Food & Drug Administration (USFDA) of Colchicine Tablets used for the treatment of Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) on the same day i.e. 9thApril. Another pharmaceutical company which was not allowed to market their drug in the US is IPCA Labs. It is a major manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine which did not have USFDA approval before the export ban was lifted by the government for making the delivery of the drug.
Furthermore, as per a recent report the USFDA has cleared four Indian manufacturing plants in past 10 days. This development has come amid supply-chain disruptions due to Covid-19 induced drug shortages. On 13th April, Lupin one of the largest generic drug supplier in the US and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories received their inspection report where they were allowed to manufacture and market their formulation in the US market. Another Bangalore based Strides Pharmaceutical Company received manufacturing clearance after an inspection in March. Such positive developments for the Indian pharmaceutical industry are beneficial for the country’s economy and exports and it again reinforces the belief that some diplomatic dealings were on the table while India lifted the export ban on hydroxychloroquine, which is considered a drug that can help Covid-19 patients.
The appreciation made by the US president Donald Trump via twitter after successful receipt of the drug projects India as a global leader in combating this pandemic situation. It highlights that the diplomatic prowess of Prime Minister Modi has yielded positive results for the country and its economy. Similarly, the humanitarian help rendered by the country to Israel and Brazil has earned appreciation and applauds across globe and it has projected India as a key player during the time of crisis. Amusingly, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro invoked Ramayana reference when he appreciated the Prime Minister while drawing Lord Hanuman metaphor of procuring life saving drug by acting on time with dedicated efforts. The government is also planning to supply the relief drug to neighboring countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Bangladesh in the near future which would help in building country’s towering image in the South Asian region. The extraordinary complexity of the Corona virus outbreak is urgent for nations across the world to quench the spread of the disease and rising mortality rates. Within this initiative, the Indian pharmaceutical industry will certainly play a key role, not only because of its traditionally growing medicinal and research abilities, but also because of its current promising strides within seeking a viable long term virus vaccine.
As per a recent report, the Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration with American-based Company Codagenix has announced the production of a possible Coronavirus vaccination, which could be viable and hopefully market-ready by 2022. While this is one of a small number of companies working on a feasible virus vaccine, there are high expectations from the SII, considering its years of experience in the field: the company is the world’s largest producer of vaccines, and is a prominent producer of many widely used and successful vaccines worldwide, including for polio, tetanus, diphtheria, and measles among several others. To sum up the entire discussion it could be clearly observed that the supply of hydroxychloroquine drug would be a step towards projecting the country as a global leader during the time of crisis and the joint efforts for developing vaccine by both countries (US and India) would project robust global partnership between India & US for the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.