THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceutical Limited (KSDP) has started exploring possibilities for sourcing raw materials for producing hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug being used as a prophylactic against Covid-19.
“The state government has instructed KSDP for producing hydroxychloroquine at a meeting. We are trying our best to meet the demand, but there is scant availability of the raw material for the drug,” KSDP chairman C B Chandrababu said.
A revised central government advisory recommended use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medication for asymptomatic healthcare workers working in non-Covid 19 hospitals, frontline staff on surveillance duty in containment zones and paramilitary/police personnel involved in Covid-19-related activities.
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The state had successfully eradicated malaria, primarily using hydroxychloroquine. Production of hydroxychloroquine was stopped in the state and most other parts of the country since long. “Now the only place from where we can source the chemicals for the production of the drug is China. Owing to the increased demand for the drug and the Covid-19 related emergencies, both raw materials and the drug are of short supply.
The suppliers promising to supply the materials imported from China are demanding unrealistic price. The price of the raw materials that were available at Rs 100 to 150 per kg till a few months ago is now pegged at Rs 6,000 and more,” Chandrababu said. The drug is not available in the open market. Whatever stock available in the state is the ones that the central government has supplied free of cost to the state.
Following the directives of the government, KSDP has started manufacturing eight types of drugs used in the treatment for Covid-19. The government-run company has jacked up drug production by three fold in the last two-and-a-half months.
From March 1 to May 18, KSDP manufactured 16 crore tablets, 2.66 crore capsules, 1.8 lakh litre injection drug and 1.8 lakh packets of ORS. The production in terms of its price amounts to Rs 27 crore.