Customs duty exemption withdrawn on imported, life-saving drugs. What next?

Will the withdrawl of customs tariff exemption result in increase in prices of 76 life-saving drugs? While the government says there are cheaper domestic drugs available, many social groups foresee a high double-digit percentage rise in cost of drugs owing to lack of supply from Indian manufacturers. The debate is on... Source: PTI; The Dollar Business Bureau
 Prices of life-saving drugs may rise. Now blame customs duty! A notification issued by Central Board of Excise and Customs last week had withdrawn the customs duty exemption on the import of 76 drugs
  Defending the move to end the customs duty exemption for import of 76 life-saving drugs including those for treating cancer, AIDS and haemophilia, government has said Indian manufacturers are already selling most of these drugs at cheaper prices. It also claimed there will only be marginal increase in the prices of these imported drugs due to exemption withdrawal. “It is to promote indigenous medicines. The Indian drug companies are perfectly capable of manufacturing these drugs for our domestic market. We are not only meeting the domestic demand but are also exporting them to 200 countries and economies. Most of them are availabe at cheaper rates,” said a senior Health Ministry official, who is also overseeing the functioning of Drug Controller General of India. He said there will be marginal increase in the prices of these imported drugs. “In case of 95% of these drugs, the custom duty is only 2.5%. So if there is an increase, it would be marginal,” he said. While the medicines directly impact the treatment of crucial health problems like HIV AIDS and haemophilia, the official said majority of such patients are treated by government hospitals. “The expenditure for treatment for HIV AIDS and haemophilia patients is borne by public expenditure. There are public health facilities that provide them free healthcare,” he said. The list of 76 medicines also contains pharmaseutical ingredients used in drugs. A notification issued by Central Board of Excise and Customs last week had withdrawn the customs duty exemption on the import of 76 drugs. They are used in treatment of diseases like kidney stones, heart rhythm disorders, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, bone diseases, bacterial infections, anaesthetic medication, allergies, arthritis, lupus, menopause, glaucoma, poisoning by a chemical or pesticide, growth failure in children and ulcerative colitis.  

February 10, 2016 | 05:30 pm IST

The Dollar Business Bureau - Feb 10, 2016 11:55 IST
 
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