Centre exempts basic customs duty on imported drugs for all rare diseases
The import duty waiver will come into effect from 1 April
The Central Government on 30 March has exempted basic customs duty on all imported drugs and Food for Special Medical Purposes for personal use for the treatment of all Rare Diseases listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021.
As per the Finance Ministry's statement, in order to avail exemption, individual importer has to produce a certificate from Central or State Director Health Services or District Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon of the district.
This exemption will result in substantial cost savings and provide much needed relief to the patients.
The import duty waiver will come into effect from 1 April.
Drugs/Medicines generally attract basic customs duty of 10 percent, while some categories of lifesaving drugs/vaccines attract concessional rate of 5 percent or Nil.
Also, the government has exempted Pembrolizumab (Keytruda), used in treatment of various cancers, from basic customs duty.
Food for Special Medical Purposes is a food formulation intended to provide nutritional support to persons who suffer from a specific disease, disorder or a medical condition, as a part of their dietary management.
While exemptions have already been provided to specified drugs for 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 treatment of other rare diseases.
Drugs or Special Foods required for the treatment of these diseases are expensive and need to be imported.
The ministry said it is estimated that for a child weighing 10 kg, the annual cost of treatment for some rare diseases, may vary from ₹10 lakh to more than ₹1 crore per year with treatment being lifelong and drug dose and cost, increasing with age and weight.