India has agreed to sell hydroxychloroquine tablets to Malaysia for use in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, a Malaysian minister told on Wednesday, with New Delhi partially lifting its bar on exports of the anti-malarial drug.
India is the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, sales of which have soared across the world including in the United States, especially after President Donald Trump touted it as a potential weapon against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
New Delhi had last month put a hold on exports of hydroxychloroquine to secure supplies for itself, before agreeing this month to supply it to some of its neighbours as well as “nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic”.
India’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
Malaysia has been using hydroxychloroquine for mild to severe COVID-19 cases along with other drugs, according to its treatment protocol.
It has the second highest number of infections of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia with nearly 5,000 cases, 82 of whom have died.
India’s decision to sell the sought-after drug to Malaysia signals a turnaround in relations between the countries that had soured because of repeated criticism of some Indian policies by Mahathir Mohamad, before he resigned as Malaysia’s prime minister in February.
Malaysia had asked for more than one million hydroxychloroquine tablets from India, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak with the media.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, IPCA Laboratories and Cadila Healthcare are among India’s leading suppliers of hydroxychloroquine.