Home/ News / India/  Centre gives customs duty relief on drugs for rare diseases

The central government has given basic customs duty exemption on all drugs and special purpose food imported for personal use in the treatment of rare diseases, the finance ministry said in a statement.

The relief is made available to all items listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021 through a general exemption notification, the ministry said.

For this exemption, an individual importer has to produce a certificate from Central or state Director of Health Services or District Medical Officer or the Civil Surgeon of the district.

Medicines generally attract basic customs duty of 10%, while some categories of lifesaving drugs and vaccines attract concessional rate of 5% or no duty at all, the ministry said.

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 used in treatment of other rare diseases, the ministry said.

“Drugs or special foods required for the treatment of these 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 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 result in substantial cost savings and provide much needed relief to the patients," said the statement.

The ministry also said that pembrolizumab (brand name Keytruda), used in treatment of various cancers, has been fully exempted from basic customs duty.

Separately, the government has extended the exemption from health cess allowed in the case of imported goods for use in the manufacture of X-ray machines, showed an order from the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).

CBIC also said in a separate order that the basic customs duty given in the case of import of specific textile machinery parts and raw materials for manufacture of goods to be supplied in connection with off-shore oil exploration has been extended.

Gireesh Chandra Prasad
Gireesh has over 22 years of experience in business journalism covering diverse aspects of the economy, including finance, taxation, energy, aviation, corporate and bankruptcy laws, accounting and auditing.
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Updated: 30 Mar 2023, 04:28 PM IST
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