Drugs for rare diseases get customs duty relief

Source: The post is based on the article “Drugs for rare diseases get customs duty relief” published in Indian Express on 31st March 2023

What is the News?

The Central Government has given full exemption from basic customs duty on all drugs and food for special medical purposes imported for personal use for the treatment of all Rare Diseases listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021.

What is the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021?

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What is the significance of this exemption of basic customs duty on rare diseases?

Drugs or Special Foods required for the treatment of rare diseases are expensive and need to be imported.

It is estimated that for a child weighing 10 kg, the annual cost of treatment for some rare diseases, may vary from ₹10 lahks to more than ₹1 crore per year with treatment being lifelong and drug dose and cost, increasing with age and weight. 

This exemption from basic customs duty will result in substantial cost savings and provide much needed relief to the patients.

In order to avail this exemption, the individual importer has to produce a certificate from Central or State Director Health Services or the District Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon of the district. 

What is the tax on life-saving drugs and medicines?

Drugs/medicines generally attract basic customs duty of 10 per cent, while some categories of lifesaving drugs/vaccines attract a concessional rate of 5 per cent or nil.

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