- Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is an anti- malarial drug similar to chloroquine, one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs.
- It is also used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Mechanism of action:
- Hydroxychloroquine is an interferon blocker, and works by diminishing the immune system’s response to a viral infection.
- Interferons are a group of soluble glycoproteins that are produced and released from cells in response to virus infection.
- This property of HCQ makes it useful in autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19:
- A hyperactive response by the immune system is said to be primarily responsible for pneumonia, also a fallout of a severe SARS-CoV-2 infection.
- Since HCQ has the ability to diminish the immune system’s response to a viral infection it seems to be effective incase of COVID-19 patients.
- The drug has shown to have shortened the time to clinical recovery of COVID-19 patients.
- However, many of these are in small lab-controlled testing and no proper human trials have been conducted to determine its efficacy.
- In India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for asymptomatic frontline workers, such as surveillance workers deployed in containment zones and paramilitary/police personnel involved in COVID-19-related activities,
Adverse effects of HCQ:
- HCQ may lead to
- cardiac arrhythmia
- liver damage
- The WHO has said that while there is no conclusive evidence yet of the efficacy of HCQ in Covid-19 treatment, the side-effects are well documented.
- Many countries have limited it to clinical trials under supervision of clinicians in hospital settings.
Why in News?
- India has lifted the nearly three-month old ban on export of Hydroxychloroquine and its formulations, with immediate effect.
- A notification moving them from the ‘Prohibited’ to ‘Free’ for export policy has been issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
- The latest notification is an amendment to the one issued on March 25, prohibiting the export of HCQ and formulations, except under certain conditions.
- The Directorate General of Foreign Trade organisation is an attached office of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It is headquartered in New Delhi.
- This Directorate is responsible for formulating and implementing the Foreign Trade Policy with the main objective of promoting India’s exports.