covid-19: Hydroxychloroquine production scaled up: Zydus Cadila

New Delhi: Zydus Cadila chairman Pankaj R Patel has said the company has ramped up its capacity for manufacturing hydroxychloroquine (or HCQ) by nearly 10 times since the outbreak of Covid-19.

India manufactures 70% of the world’s supply of hydroxychloroquine — Zydus and Ipca Labs being the two biggest players.

“Till Covid-19 happened we were manufacturing HCQ for diseases such as Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis; its market was restricted. But now when we need it for Covid patients we have ramped up our capacity multiple times,” Patel told ET, speaking over the phone.

“Earlier, we used to manufacture 2-4 tonnes API every month for domestic supply as well as exports but this month itself we will be meeting our increased domestic target of 20 tonnes API or 10 crore tablets. The target for next month is 30 tonnes API or 15 crore tablets, which we will comfortably achieve.”

Patel explained that a single healthcare worker would need 14 tablets of HCQ, quoting ICMR, and Zydus’ production would be sufficient for more than 7 lakh individuals. He added that the company itself has stopped exporting the drug. AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria separately told ET that as a prophylaxis a person will need nine (400 mg) tablets and asymptomatic contacts of a confirmed case would need five (400 mg) tablets of HCQ.

The company has received orders from Central and many state governments for roughly 15 crore tablets for this month. Pricing will not be higher than normal, “In fact, we are supplying the drug at a lower price to the government,” Patel added.

On being asked about supply chain disruptions in few cities he said, “This is a prescription drug that can’t be bought otherwise. To address the supply chain issue, if any, we are gradually going to supply the drug directly to the market as well. But since there is enough stock with the government, there is absolutely no need to panic or worry.”

He also added that manufacturing of drugs in Sikkim is happening at 100% capacity. At other places, the production capacity is 60-70% which is being scaled up every day. Zydus has plants in Baddi, Ahmedabad, Daman, Sikkim and Goa for formulations and in Vadodara and Ankleshwar for APIs. Manufacturing of HCQ tablets is happening at Ahmedabad, Sikkim and Baddi.

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