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Current Affairs 2023

Government Exempts Customs Duty for Imported Drugs and Food for Rare Diseases

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 treatment of all Rare Diseases listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021.

Mar 30, 2023

4 min read

The Central Government has recently announced a full exemption from basic customs duty on all drugs and food for special medical purposes imported for personal use for treatment of all Rare Diseases listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021. This exemption will help provide much needed relief to those suffering from rare diseases, as drugs and special foods required for treatment are often expensive and need to be imported.

 

In order to avail this exemption, the individual importer has to produce a certificate from Central or State Director Health Services or District Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon of the district. Drugs/Medicines generally attract basic customs duty of 10%, while some categories of lifesaving drugs/vaccines attract concessional rate of 5% or Nil.

 

The Government has also fully exempted Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) used in treatment of various cancers from basic customs duty. This will result in substantial cost savings for those suffering from cancer and help them to access the necessary treatment. 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.

 

This exemption will help alleviate financial burden on individuals and families who are already under immense financial pressure due to the high cost of treatment. The Central Government’s decision to exempt customs duty on imported drugs and food for rare diseases is a welcome move and will help provide much needed relief to those suffering from rare diseases. It will also help to improve access to essential medicines and treatments, which are often not available in India. This will go a long way in improving the quality of life of those affected by rare diseases. Reference source: TH

 

UPSC Main Exam Question

 

Discuss the significance of the recent announcement by the Central Government to exempt basic customs duty on drugs and food for rare diseases. Also, explain the procedure to avail this exemption.

 

Answer: The Central Government's decision to fully exempt basic customs duty on all drugs and food for special medical purposes imported for personal use for treatment of rare diseases listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021 is a significant step towards providing relief to those suffering from rare diseases. This exemption will reduce the financial burden on individuals and families who have to bear the high cost of treatment for rare diseases. Drugs and special foods required for the treatment of rare diseases are often expensive and need to be imported. This exemption will make these medicines and foods more affordable and accessible to those who need them.

 

To avail this exemption, the individual importer has to produce a certificate from Central or State Director Health Services or District Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon of the district. Drugs/Medicines generally attract basic customs duty of 10%, while some categories of lifesaving drugs/vaccines attract concessional rate of 5% or Nil.

 

In addition to this, the Government has also fully exempted Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) used in the treatment of various cancers from basic customs duty. This will result in substantial cost savings for those suffering from cancer and help them access the necessary treatment. 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.

 

The Central Government’s decision to exempt customs duty on imported drugs and food for rare diseases is a welcome move and will help provide much-needed relief to those suffering from rare diseases. This will improve access to essential medicines and treatments, which are often not available in India. This will go a long way in improving the quality of life of those affected by rare diseases.

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