March 25, 2020 / 3:14 AM / 14 days ago

India bans export of key malaria drug amid coronavirus outbreak

NEW DELHI, March 25 (Reuters) - The Indian government said on Wednesday that it is banning the export of hydroxychloroquine and formulations made from the medication, as experts test the efficacy of the drug in helping treat patients infected with COVID-19.

There are currently no approved treatments, or preventive vaccines for COVID-19, the highly contagious, sometimes deadly respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. Researchers are studying existing treatments and working on experimental ones, but most current patients receive only supportive care such as breathing assistance.

Hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, is among the medications that are being tested, as a potential treatment for patients with the disease. Earlier this week, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), which maintains a list of drug shortages, said hydroxychloroquine was in shortage. (Reporting by Neha Dasgupta; Writing by Euan Rocha; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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