As the United States is battling Coronavirus pandemic with the death toll crossing 12,800 in the country, Indian American-owned pharma firm has pledged to donate 3.4 million Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate tablets to some of the key COVID-19 battleground states, including New York and Louisiana, joining the war against the dreaded coronavirus.
Owned by philanthropic billionaire Chirag and Chintu Patel, New Jersey-based Amneal Pharmaceuticals, which is one of the largest US-based manufacturers, has also announced ramping up production of Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate at several of its manufacturing sites and expects to produce approximately 20 million tablets between now and mid-April.
Those tablets will be made available nationwide through Amneal’s existing retail and wholesale customers, as well as through direct sales to larger institutions in need, the company said.
Amneal has donated two million tablets of 200 mg Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate to New York, and one million to Texas to be used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. It is ready to provide more as needed. It is also donating and providing products directly to hospitals across the country, the company said.
The pharmaceutical company has also announced a donation of 400,000 Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate tablets to Louisiana.
“All of us at Amneal are committed to supporting our communities in the global fight against COVID-19,” news agency PTI quoted Chirag and Chintu Patel, Co-Chief Executive Officers of Amneal as saying.
“We are working with urgency to assist the hardest-hit states and hospitals around the country to benefit as many patients as possible during this critical time,” they said in a joint statement, issued by the Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
“It is important we all work together to help solve the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. We must come together as Louisianans and as Americans. This donation from Amneal demonstrates their strong effort to be a good corporate citizen in our nation,” Landry said.
According to Louisiana State Government, Amneal’s Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate tablets are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, childhood arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.
Hydroxychloroquine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of COVID-19; but it has been identified as a possible treatment for it, and the US government has requested its immediate availability.
“This is a crucial time in the global fight against COVID-19,” Chirag and Chintu Patel said in a company press release.
“With an existing supply of Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate and our ability to quickly accelerate production, we are humbled to be able to assist the hardest-hit states and hospitals around the country to benefit as many patients as possible,” the two brothers said.
Landry said that Amneal”s donation is one step toward trying to find treatments and cures for this epidemic.
“Right now, there are no silver bullets. We must remain vigilant against the spread of this virus,” he said.
The Louisiana State University School of Medicine is working to launch two different clinical trials using hydroxychloroquine in relation to COVID-19.
One trial will utilize Hydroxychloroquine on those who have significant COVID-19 disease. The other trial protocol will use and test the drug as a preventative measure for those healthcare workers on the front lines battling the epidemic.
Trials will be conducted at the University Medical Center in New Orleans and at the LSU Medical School locations in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, a media release said.
Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate was first synthesized in 1946 and is in a class of medications historically used to treat and prevent malaria.
The Government of India had on March 25 banned export of this anti-malaria drug Hydroxycloroquine, with immediate effect to ensure sufficient availability of the medicine in the domestic market. However, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade, an arm of the commerce ministry which deals with export and import-related matters, said it will allow export of the medicine on humanitarian grounds on case-to-case basis on the Ministry of External Affairs’ recommendation.
Following this, last week, Trump requested PM Modi to release the amount of Hydroxychloroquine ordered by his country to aid America’s fight against the deadly COVID-19 disease.
He even warned of “retaliation” if India does not export Hydroxychloroquine.
A day later on Tuesday, the US President took a U-turn and supported the Narendra Modi government’s position on the anti-malaria drug believed to be effective in the treatment of Coronavirus.
Hydroxychloroquine tablet is used to prevent and treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, among other ailments.
Hydroxychloroquine has been approved by the national task force of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as a prophylaxis – a treatment to prevent a disease – for people at “high risk” of contracting COVID-19. However, it is recommended only for a healthcare worker who is treating a COVID-19 patient. Secondly, it is recommended only for persons staying and caring for a household positive patient. They can take that only for ‘prophylaxis’, or prevention.
The United States has over 3,98,000 cases and in New York alone, over 3,200 have died so far due to Coronavirus.