Islamabad        -             As the scientists set their focus on treatment of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients with antimalarial medicines, the Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and health experts, on Saturday, expressed confidence on availability of the Chloroquine in the country.

Microbiologist from Lanzhou University China, Dr. Kamran Malik said that Chloroquine was used in World War II, and the drug was now generic and was relatively cheap. He said that people had been pitching Chloroquine as an antiviral for years. 

He said that China at the beginning of February, had urgently ordered 300,000 Chloroquine phosphate tablets from Pakistan for free use in epidemic prevention and control materials reserve and clinical trials in China.

He said that the first batch of Chloroquine phosphate tablets was approved in an urgent manner within 24 hours and was produced and delivered in record time.

Dr. Kamran said that the Chloroquine phosphate and Hydroxychloroquine seemed to work on viruses by inhibiting a process called glycosylation, a chemical transformation of the proteins in the outer shell of the virus that’s part of the infection process.

“Chinese researchers have initiated perhaps a half-dozen randomized trials of these two drugs in humans and got promising results,” he said.He said that published reports stemming from the COVID-19 Chinese outbreak have evaluated the potential usefulness of these drugs in controlling cytokine release syndrome in critically ill patients.

Dr. Kamran said that according to a consensus statement from a multicenter collaboration group in China, use of Chloroquine phosphate 500-mg twice daily in tablet form for 10 days might be considered in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.

He said Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine were widely used antimalarial drugs that elicited immuno-modulatory effects (a chemical agent that modifies the immune response or the functioning of the immune system) and were also used to treat autoimmune conditions (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis (a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect body joints).

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) DRAP Asim Hussain talking to The Nation said that Chloroquine in Pakistan was available in large quantity and directions had been issued to manufacturing companies to streamline its production.He said that all federal and provincial authorities had been taken in confidence regarding availability of the Chloroquine in the market.

He said that there were as many as 92 local pharmaceutical companies and a large number of them were manufacturing Chloroquine.He said that DRAP has issued directives to all relevant departments to stop hoarding the medicine.

“Only those who have medical prescription should be given Chloroquine,” he said. Pakistan Young Pharmacist Association (PYPA) President Noor Mehar said that around fifteen companies are already manufacturing Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine in Pakistan.

He said that DRAP and pharmaceutical companies should hold an emergency meeting to import the raw material to avoid shortage of the medicine in the country.