BH CORRESPONDENT, Kolkata: The Bengal drug controller on Friday issued manufacturing license for the much-sought-after hydroxychloroquine tablets to Kolkata-based Bengal Chemicals that was established by Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy. The company is on the verge of closure as there are no buyers for most of its products.
Bengal Chemicals, which once manufactured the anti-malaria drug, will now produce hydroxychloroquine that some say is a cure for COVID-19.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday at a meeting with industrialists and business houses asked Bengal Chemicals to start production of hydroxychloroquine as soon as possible to cope with the present demand of the drug across the country.
Bengal Chemicals authorities on Friday had applied for the manufacturing license of the drug on an urgent basis with the hope that the state drug controller will issue the license by Monday. But the state drug controller swung into action immediately and issued the license on Friday afternoon itself.
At present, the drug is being produced by a pharmaceutical manufacturer in Gujarat. The Government of India is exporting this medicine to other countries from this company. The West Bengal government has already placed an order of 15 lakh hydroxychloroquine tablets with this company.
The state government has asked its North Bengal units of the merchant chambers of commerce to help procuring raw material for production of the drug. The state government has a plantation of Cinchona — raw material for the drug — at Mongpu.
Bengal Chemicals has a plant in North Bengal, where production of hydroxychloroquine would soon begin. The state government has decided to place an initial order of 2 crore tablets.
“Initially, we will produce 200 mg and 400 mg tablets and the price would be fixed after consultation with the Union health ministry,” said Biplab Dasgupta, marketing head of Bengal Chemicals.
Earlier on Friday morning, the PMO’s office made enquiries about Bengal Chemicals. The principal secretary of the pharmaceuticals division called up the managing director of Bengal Chemicals P.M Chandraiya. The MD is believed to have told him that with the present infrastructure, Bengal Chemicals is capable of delivering 2 lakh tablets per day.