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Taiwan’s FDA to distribute hydroxychloroquinone for free after WHO declares it unsafe and ineffective for use against COVID-19.

Image Credit: ET Health World.

Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration will start to distribute hydroxychloroquinone (HCQ) for free to around 6,600 pharmacies around the country, as the HCQ stockpile that was bought back in the first quarter of 2020 will expire soon, as they have an expiry date of one year. This announcement comes soon after a World Health Organization (WHO) panel issued ‘strong advice’ against its use to treat or prevent COVID-19, in March 2, 2021. Taiwan is not a WHO member, but 10 days after the announcement by WHO, Taiwan’s FDA contacted the National Federation of Pharmacists Association to announce the free HCQ for all citizens with a prescription. HCQ is a medicine used to treat or prevent malaria, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis.

In the first quarter of 2020, Taiwan bought huge stockpiles of HCQ, costing it NT$30-40 million, as it was initially believed to be an effective treatment against COVID-19. Taiwanese pharmaceutical company Sci Pharmtech which is the second largest manufacturer of HCQ donated 1 tonne of the drug. Back in December SciPharm tech suffered a huge explosion which decimated the company.

The Taiwanese Ministry of Health ended up with 15 million doses of HCQ in April 2020, which could not be used for COVID-19. The anti-inflammatory drug will now be distributed for free in pharmacies, which will receives 1000 pills in a container to give to people with prescriptions for conditions such as Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis.

A researcher in a Pharmaceutical group, Hong Xiuxun (洪秀勳) said this is the first time, medicine was given for free.

This is probably the first time in history that medicines were given to medical institutions and pharmacies for free.

Hong Xiuxun (洪秀勳)

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