India relaxes export ban on malaria drug Trump has been pushing as possible Covid-19 therapy

India has partially lifted export restrictions on the drug hydroxychloroquine, according to a statement from the country’s Ministry of External Affairs.

The restrictions “have been largely lifted” after a review of national needs, ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said in the statement.

New Delhi had imposed a blanket export ban on the drug on Saturday, just as President Donald Trump requested more to be released to the United States.

Trump has insisted that the drug — usually used to treat malaria — can prevent the coronavirus, despite there being no reliable evidence and no definitive study. The FDA has not approved hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of Covid-19.

“Like any responsible government, our first obligation is to ensure that there are adequate stocks of medicines for the requirement of our own people. In order to ensure this, some temporary steps were taken to restrict exports of a number of pharmaceutical products,” said the new statement from the ministry.

The Indian government says going forward, demand for paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine will be continuously monitored, and that the number of materials in stock could allow for companies to meet export commitments previously under contract.

Responding to questions about the turnaround in policy, Srivastava said he discouraged speculation or any attempts to politicize the matter.

The Indian government had initially restricted the sale and distribution of hydroxychloroquine in March, and made it eligible only to medical personnel working with confirmed Covid-19 patients or individuals who had come in close contact with a positive case.

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