Many countries including Turkey are relying on China and India for raw materials for drugs believed to cure coronavirus-related symptoms.
"We, like many developed countries, are highly dependent on China and India in terms of raw materials," said Nezih Barut, chairman of leading Turkish pharmaceutical company Abdi Ibrahim.
Scientists and researchers are scrambling to find a vaccine for the novel virus which has infected over 2.42 million people worldwide and killed more than 165,000.
Until such a discovery, health experts are treating patients with anti-malaria drugs, including hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which have shown positive results for coronavirus-related lung infection.
"As a matter of fact, France announced that 24 patients accepted experimental treatment and 75% of the cases received positive results from the treatment within six days after conducting tests.
"Afterward, China announced that chloroquine phosphate was used in over 100 patients and a positive result was obtained in terms of regression of pneumonia," Barut said.
In the light of these developments, on March 28 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency authorization to use chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for experimental coronavirus treatments.
Also, on April 1 the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for the treatment in clinical trials and emergency use programs.
"Antimalarial drugs are being used in the treatment of coronavirus in countries that can supply these active ingredients," he said, adding the world is facing the shortages of some drugs and there is an intense demand for the raw material, especially from Western countries.
Early April, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened "retaliation" if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declined to ship the medicines.
Trump said "there may be retaliation" if India does not agree to export hydroxychloroquine, which he has described as a "game-changer", although it is yet to be established as an effective cure for COVID-19.
Last month, India restricted export of 26 pharmaceutical materials and medicines, including hydroxychloroquine.
Later, India partially lifted the ban on the export of some drugs and pharmaceuticals which can be used to treat COVID-19, according to India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
Turkey's use of chloroquine
After observing the positive results from the use of chloroquine, we have initiated the procurement process for the raw material without delay, Barut said.
He said they were able to procure 134 kilograms (286.6 pounds) of raw material for chloroquine and 50 kg (110.2 lbs) from China based on their strong network in the industry.
He went on to say that in early April Abdi Ibrahim produced 700,000 tablets for the Health Ministry.
He added this figure will swell to 1.6 million by the end of this month.
These tablets will meet the needs of approximately 80,000 patients.
Turkey on Monday confirmed 123 more deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 2,140.
The total number of registered coronavirus cases in the country surged to 90,980 as 4,674 more people tested positive for the virus.
In addition, 1,454 patients recovered on Monday, and the total number of recoveries rose to 13,430.
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