Essential life-saving drugs will soon get costlier as the Finance Ministry has withdrawn exemption of 76 medicines from custom duties. The move is aimed to restrict the use of imported drugs so as to promote indigenous pharmaceutical industry and boost generic versions of such drugs.

b’A representational image | Source: Reuters’

According to a report by the Hindustan Times, here is what it entails:

  • Bulk drugs like cefoperazone, carbidopa, dobutamine, ketamine and letrozole, used as basic  to treat parkinson’s disease, heart failures, hallucinogen and cancer, will now attract a custom duty of 10% instead of 5%.
  •  Custom duty on certain life-saving drugs, including abciximab, anti-rabies immunoglobin, procarbazine and saquinavir, from nil to 35%.
  • Cost of anti-haemophilic drugs to be increased considerably 
b’A representational image | Source: Reuters’

However, the move is seen as a setback for patients suffering from life-threatening chronic diseases like cancer, haemophilia and AIDS.

According to sources, patients of Haemophilia (a genetic disorder which leads to excessive bleeding) will be worst affected with the government’s decision of withdrawing the custom duties exemption. 

“The two drugs — one is blood-based and it is a bad product from an Indian company. The other Indian alternative is a company that makes only IX but does not make factor VIII. We will die. We need between 1,500-1,700 units a year and we already spend over Rs. 30,000 out of pocket. Withdrawal of exemption from import duty means the per-unit cost will go up by Rs. 3-Rs. 4,” said Rupal Panchal, founder of the Mumbai-based Haemophilia Society,  as per a report by The Hindu.

In February 2015, a similar move was initiated by the government in which it had increased the custom duty on imported medical devices in order to encourage companies to manufacture in India as per a report by The Times of India.

(Feature image source: Reuters)