Govt Announces Custom Duty Exemption for Imported Medicines, Food for Rare Diseases

Picture Source: Internet

On March 30, the Union Government announced a complete exemption from basic customs duties on all medicines and food imported for personal use to treat all rare diseases listed in the National Rare Disease Policy 2021 through a General Exemption Notice.

Earlier, the Union Finance Minister, on the recommendation of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, allowed a duty exemption of Rs 7 lakh worth of immunotherapy drugs, a rare cancer drug, used to treat a little girl named Niharika.

To take advantage of the exemption, the government said that individual importers must produce a certificate from the Central or State Health Service Director or a district medical officer or civil surgeon in the district.

Currently, medicines and pharmaceuticals are generally subject to a basic duty of 10%, while some life-saving medicines/vaccines have a reduced duty rate of 5% or zero.

A statement from Union Finance Ministry said that exemptions had been provided for specific drugs for treating spinal muscular atrophy or Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The government has received many requests for tariff relief for drugs and medicines used to treat other rare diseases.

Medicines or special foods needed to treat these diseases are expensive and must be imported.

It is estimated that for a child weighing 10 kg, the annual cost of treatment for certain rare diseases can range from Rs 10 lakh to over Rs 1 crore per year, and the treatment is life-long, with drug doses and costs increase with age and body weight.

The ministry said the waiver would result in significant cost savings and provide much-needed relief to patients.

The government has also wholly exempted basic tariffs on pembrolizumab (Keytruda), used to treat various cancers.

Get Daily Prediction & Stocks Tips On Your Mobile