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COVID-19: Lack of quinine hampering anti-malarial drug production

According to a BPCL official, the present stock of quinine to manufacture Chloroquine will be utilised for delivering the order for 12 lakh tablets placed by Uttarakhand.

Published: 13th April 2020 03:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2020 11:01 AM   |  A+A-

A chemist displays hydroxychloroquine tablets in New Delhi, India, Thursday, April 9, 2020. Amidst concerns over domestic shortage, India has lifted the ban on some drug exports including hydroxychloroquine. (Photo | AP)

By Express News Service

KOLKATA: Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Limited (BPCL) has informed the central and state governments that it is ready to manufacture hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) within 48 hours but its production cannot be started due to unavailability of quinine.

The country’s oldest pharma company, which had stopped HCQ production decades ago, was given nod by the Directorate of Drugs Control, Bengal two days ago to produce HCQ tablets.

The anti-malaria drug is in demand in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

But the BPCL is hindered due to unavailability of quinine, which is supplied by a Mumbai-based agency that sources it from Tamil Nadu. The Mumbai firm told the pharma major that it would take at least two months to deliver the basic ingredients.

BPCL managing director P M Chandraiah wrote to the Centre and the West Bengal chief secretary that though the PSU can manufacture 15 lakh HCQ tablets every day, it is sitting idle due to lack of raw materials despite having all required infrastructure and manpower.

According to a BPCL official, the present stock of quinine to manufacture Chloroquine will be utilised for delivering the order for 12 lakh tablets placed by Uttarakhand.

“If we get the raw materials, we are in a position to produce the medicine within 48 hours. We are ready to manufacture 200 and 400-milligram tablets of HCQ tablets.’”

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