India has been a significant partner of the US in the pharmaceutical sector and expects similar cooperation to continue between the two economies, a senior official has said as America has urged New Delhi to allow the sale of Hydroxychloroquine tablets to treat its rising COVID-19 patients.
"India has long been a significant partner of the US in the pharmaceutical sector. We expect this kind of cooperation to continue, and as India analyses what it needs for its domestic market and as we seek to grow the volume of drugs and PPE that are available both in the United States and also globally to respond to COVID, Alice G Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, told reporters here on Monday.
Well's comments came as President Donald Trump has sought help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the sale of Hydroxychloroquine tablets ordered by the US to treat the growing number of coronavirus patients in his country, hours after India banned the export of the anti-malarial drug.
Trump said he spoke to Prime Minister Modi on Saturday morning and made a request to release Hydroxychloroquine - an old and inexpensive drug used to treat malaria - for the US.
India, so far, has not made any official decision in this regard. However, here in the US, the Trump administration has already created a national strategic stockpile of 29 million doses of the malaria drug, anticipating that its test results on more than 1,500 COVID-19 patients in New York is yielding positive results.
On pharmaceuticals and supply chain, I think you received a very strong sort of affirmation in the call between the prime minister and the president of the fact that the US and India need to work together to respond to the COVID challenge, to be a solution to the threat posed by the virus, Wells said.
"India has long been a significant partner of the US and the pharmaceutical sector. It's one of our top imports from India in 2018. India is obviously one of the world's leaders in the supply of generic drugs. It represents a significant portion of the precursor pharmaceuticals that supply the US market, the top american diplomat said.
More than 10,000 people have died of coronavirus complications in the United States since the outbreak began in late January, Johns Hopkins University has said.
The Baltimore-based school, which has been keeping a running tally of global coronavirus numbers, on Monday said there are at least 347,003 confirmed infections in the US with 10,335 deaths.
Scientists have begun testing Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as candidates for potential COVID-19 treatments and the Food and Drugs Administration last week issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the prescription of the drugs in certain circumstances.
In addition to New York, COVID-19 patients in several states are being treated with Hydroxychloroquine. This includes Michigan and Texas as well.
Describing this as a great malaria drug, Trump told reporters on Sunday that it has worked unbelievably.
It's this powerful drug on malaria. There are signs that it works on this. Some very strong signs. And, in the meantime, it's been around a long time. It also works very powerfully on lupus, he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging the agency to address reports of shortages of Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, antimalarial drugs typically used to treat lupus, malaria, and rheumatoid arthritis.
"President Trump's unproven claims about the drug have fuelled an increased demand for them, leaving physicians and patients that already rely on them to grapple with shortages of these essential medications," Warren said.(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)