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India calls for depoliticising issue of exports of key anti-covid drugs

India on Tuesday called for depoliticising the issue of exports of key drugs essential for fight against covid-19 in the backdrop of US President threatening retaliation if supplies are held back and informed that exports to some nations badly impacted by Covid besides neighbour.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Apr 07, 2020, 12.16 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday called for depoliticising the issue of exports of key drugs essential for fight against COVID-19 in the backdrop of US President threatening retaliation if supplies are held back and informed that exports to some nations badly impacted by COVID besides neighbour.

Given the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic, India has always maintained that the international community must display strong solidarity and cooperation, the Ministry of External Affairs stated. ”This approach also guided our evacuation of nationals of other countries.”

“I would be surprised if that (not exporting the drug) were his (Prime Minister Modi's) decision. He'd have to tell me that. 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?" US President Donald Trump told reporters during a press briefing at the White House on Monday.

On Monday, a senior State Department official said that India has been a significant partner of the US in the pharmaceutical sector and it expects similar cooperation to continue between the economies.

“India has long been a significant partner of the United States in the pharmaceutical sector,” Alice G Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, told reporters during a press briefing.

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, "We have seen some attempts by sections of the media to create unnecessary controversy over the issue of COVID-19 related drugs and pharmaceuticals. 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.”

In the meanwhile, a comprehensive assessment was made of possible requirements under different scenarios. After having confirmed the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies currently envisaged, these restrictions have been largely lifted, Srivastava informed. The DGFT has notified lifting restrictions on 14 drugs on Monday.

“With regard to paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), they will be kept in a licensed category and their demand position would be continuously monitored. However, the stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments that they had contracted.”

”In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities. We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. We would therefore discourage any speculation in this regard or any attempts to politicise the matter," the spokesperson emphasised.

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