Did P C Ray discover hydroxychloroquine?
Mangaluru: While Acharya P C Ray is one of the greats of manufacturing chemistry in India and founded the Bengal Chemicals, there have been forwards of the whatsapp university crediting him with the discovery and manufacture of hydroxy chloroquine. If he had done that it would have been really astonishing because the drug was first prepared in 1945 and he had passed away in 1944! While we should certainly acknowledge the greats of our nation it is not necessary to ascribe to them very odd things which they have not done.
But why this confusion? It is mainly because of the lack of knowledge of chemistry and fundamentals of science of the graduates of the social apps universities. The compound he was associated with is Clioquinol (iodochlorhydroxyquin) is an antifungal drug and antiprotozoal drug. It is neurotoxic in large doses. It is a member of a family of drugs called hydroxyquinolines which inhibit certain enzymes related to DNA replication. The drugs have been found to have activity against both viral and protozoal infections. Clioquinol (iodochlorhydroxyquin) is an antifungal drug and antiprotozoal drug. It is neurotoxic in large doses. It is a member of a family of drugs called hydroxyquinolines which inhibit certain enzymes related to DNA replication. The drugs have been found to have activity against both viral and protozoal infections. Later on it was also used as an intestinal antiseptic which caused SMON and hence its oral use was banned.
Hydroxychloroquine is a less toxic derivative of chloroquine and was discovered in 1945 and was a part of the efforts to lessen the toxic effects of chloroquine . It was approved for use in US in 1955 and since has been used for the treatment of a wide variety of diseases including arthritis, SLE etc. Of course these are in addition to its main use as a prophylactic for malaria which is because of its half life of around three weeks. However all know the reasons for its hitting the headlines now because of its alleged effectiveness in covid 19 treatment and prophylaxis!
Again while P C Ray founded company is credited with being the largest manufacturer of hyroxychloroquine it is far from the truth. It is the largest manufacturer of clioquinol which is not a very widely used compound now and not many are interested in its manufacture. However the truth is that India manufactures 70% of the worlds supply of hydroxy chloroquine and the leading manufacturers are IPCA, Zydus Cadila and Wallace Pharmaceuticals!
Author : Prof Narendra Nayak, President, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations