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Duty cut a great development: Piramal

Our Bureau

Mumbai , Jan. 8

PHARMACEUTICAL companies have welcomed the decision of the Government to pare down customs duty on specified life-saving drugs, formulations and medical equipments to 5 per cent.

Dr Swati Piramal, Director (Strategic Alliance) of Nicholas Piramal India Ltd, described the customs duty cut as a "great development, especially for the patients who are very ill, as this will ease their burden."

A section of the industry, however, did not appear to be very excited about the custom duty reduction in the light of the elaborate and time-consuming procedure involved in getting the status of a `specified life saving drug' from the Government to avail of the duty cut.

Industry players also felt that the customs duty cut should have been extended to research equipment, especially as the clinical research sector in India is growing at a fast clip. Said an industry analyst: "India has a great potential to serve the global pharma market in the area of clinical trials an in order to realise this potential, the industry needs to focus on improving infrastructure, including research equipment. Hence a cut in duty in this segment would have accelerated growth."

Agreed Dr Piramal: "we hope that in the future we will see some reductions in customs duty on research equipment for pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and life sciences industry."

A majority of the players in the industry did not seem to be worried about a possible adverse impact of the lowering of prices of imported life saving drug as an upshot of the custom duty cut on the Indian pharmaceutical industry.

Said Dr Kamal K Sharma, Managing Director of Lupin Ltd, one of India's leading manufacturers of life saving drugs: "I am confident that the lowering of customs duty will not have much of an adverse impact on the Indian industry, because prices in India are already among the lowest in the world. "

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