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Govt exempts import duty on drugs used for treatment of rare diseases

by Medically Speaking Team

The central has fully exempted basic customs duty on the import of all drugs and food for special medical purposes and for personal use for the treatment of rare diseases.

The rare diseases that are listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021 will be considered. Drugs or special Foods required for the treatment of such diseases are expensive and need to be imported.

According to the Central government, in order to avail of this exemption, the individual importer has to produce a certificate from the central or state director of health services or the district medical officer/civil surgeon of the district.
Drugs or medicines generally attract basic customs duty of 10 per cent, while some categories of lifesaving drugs or vaccines attract a concessional rate of 5 per cent or Nil.

“While exemptions have already been provided to specified drugs for the treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy or Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the Government has been receiving many representations seeking customs duty relief for drugs and medicines used in the treatment of other Rare Diseases,” an official government statement said Thursday.

It is estimated that for a child weighing 10 kg, the annual cost of treatment for some rare diseases may vary from Rs 10 lakh to more than Rs 1 crore per year with treatment being lifelong and drug dose and cost, increasing with age and weight.
Also, the government has also fully exempted Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) used in the treatment of various cancers from basic customs duty.

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