Customs duty exemption withdrawal: Patient groups, industry concerned

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 19, 2018 Published on February 05, 2016

The Centre’s move to withdraw customs duty exemption from certain drugs has patient-groups and industry concerned.

It is unethical for the Government to withdraw exemption from haemophilic drugs, especially when there are no local makers of this product, said Rupal Panchal of the Haeomophilia Society.

There is no quality production of anti-haeomophilic factor concentrate (VIII and IX), he said, adding that both these drugs were critical for the 16,000-odd patients in India. The price of the drug would increase, with the Government removing the drug from the exemptions list for customs duty. Even the Government sources the drug from the importing company Baxter, he pointed out.

Leena Menghaney with humanitarian organisation MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières — Doctors without Borders) said that the Government’s move is welcome in certain cancer drugs like trastuzumab (breast cancer), where there are local producers. Similarly with the HIV drugs too, she said, patients would not be affected as there were local makers. But there was concern on products like the haemophilia drugs, she pointed out.

A key maker of cancer drugs, Novartis India Chief Ranjit Shahani said the move was not in patient interest, as medicine prices would increase. Directionally, policies of the Government should be towards reducing prices, he added.

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Published on February 05, 2016
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