India has agreed to sell hydroxychloroquine tablets to Malaysia for use in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, a Malaysian minister told Reuters on Wednesday, with New Delhi partially lifting its bar on exports of the anti-malarial drug.
India is the world's largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, sales of which have soared across the world including in the United States, especially after President Donald Trump touted it as a potential weapon against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
New Delhi had last month put a hold on exports of hydroxychloroquine to secure supplies for itself, before agreeing this month to supply it to some of its neighbours as well as "nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic".
"On 14 April, India has given permission for Malaysia to import 89,100 tablets," Malaysia's Deputy Foreign Minister Kamarudin Jaffar told Reuters on Wednesday.
"We will try to get more hydroxychloroquine tablets from India, which is also subject to stock availability."
India's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
Malaysia has been using hydroxychloroquine for mild to severe COVID-19 cases along with other drugs, according to its treatment protocol seen by Reuters.
It has the second highest number of infections of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia with nearly 5,000 cases, 82 of whom have died.
India's decision to sell the sought-after drug to Malaysia signals a turnaround in relations between the countries that had soured because of repeated criticism of some Indian policies by Mahathir Mohamad, before he resigned as Malaysia's prime minister in February.
Malaysia had asked for more than one million hydroxychloroquine tablets from India, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak with the media.
"Broadly, nations will need each other to fight this pandemic," said an Indian source with direct knowledge of the discussions with Malaysia. "Globally, there will be a new alignment of relationships."
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA.TA), IPCA Laboratories (IPCA.NS) and Cadila Healthcare (CADI.NS) are among India's leading suppliers of hydroxychloroquine.
Cadila has increased production tenfold to 30 metric tonnes per month and is ready to produce more if needed, Managing Director Sharvil Patel had told Reuters last week.