Criticising the decision of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to supply essential drugs, including paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), in appropriate quantities to adversely affected nations and neighbouring countries, Rahul Gandhi said that ‘lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first.’
Also taking a dig at US President Donald Trump’s comment, the Congress leader tweeted: “Friendship isn’t about retaliation. India must help all nations in their hour of need but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first.”
Friendship isn’t about retaliation. India must help all nations in their hour of need but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 7, 2020
On Monday, MEA had announced that after taking stock of the supply of the essential drugs India would supply paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in appropriate quantities to badly affected nations and neighbouring countries.
"“In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities.”" - Ministry of External Affairs
“We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. We would therefore discourage any speculation in this regard or any attempts to politicise the matter,” said the ministry.
The decision comes after US President Trump had called Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to supply the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19 patients.
Trump said he would be surprised if India declines his request and in that case there might be retaliation.
“So, I would be surprised if that were his (Narendra Modi) decision. He'd have to tell me that. I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him, and I said we'd appreciate your help in allowing our supply to come out,” Trump had said.
"“If he doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course there may be retaliation. Why wouldn’t there be?”" - Donald Trump, US President
The US as of now has the highest number of the novel coronavirus cases in the world, with over 367,000 cases of infections and over 10,800 deaths.
Meanwhile, the ministry clarified that their first obligation will always be to ensure that there are adequate stock for their own people.
"“Like any responsible government, our first obligation is to ensure that there are adequate stocks of medicines for the requirement of our own people.”" - Ministry of External Affairs
“In order to ensure this, some temporary steps were taken to restrict exports of a number of pharmaceutical products,” MEA added.
On 3 March, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), under the commerce ministry, had imposed export restrictions on 26 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and formulations, under which exporter has to obtain a licence or permission from the DGFT.
But on Monday, the Centre relaxed export curbs on 24 pharma ingredients and medicines.
“In the meanwhile, a comprehensive assessment was made of possible requirements under different scenarios. After having confirmed the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies currently envisaged, these restrictions have been largely lifted.” MEA said.
"“With regard to paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), they will be kept in a licensed category and their demand position would be continuously monitored. However, the stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments that they had contracted.”" - Ministry of External Affairs . Read more on India by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand Deaths‘Indians Priority’: Rahul Gandhi After Ban on Drug Export Lifted . Read more on India by The Quint.