India releases hydroxychloroquine stocks amid pressure from Trump

India has approved some exports of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug being touted as a possible coronavirus treatment, after apparent pressure from Donald Trump, who has been urging Americans to take it.

The tablets are used to prevent and treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis but over the past week the US president has been aggressively promoting the drug as a treatment for coronavirus, despite there being no conclusive medical evidence to prove its efficacy.

India, the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, had put a temporary export ban on the drug in order to preserve domestic stocks.

But in a statement on Tuesday morning, Anurag Srivastava, a government spokesperson, said that India had lifted some restrictions after officials had “confirmed the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies currently envisaged”.

Srivastava added that hydroxychloroquine would be kept in a “licensed” category, with the demand “continuously monitored”.

The partial lifting of the export ban comes after Trump confirmed he had called Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, over the weekend threatening “retaliation” if the country did not release its stocks.

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