The government has declared a full exemption from basic customs duty on all imported drugs and "Food for Special Medical Purposes" for personal use to treat rare diseases listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021.
The move is expected to bring relief to thousands of patients suffering from rare diseases, for whom the cost of treatment can be exorbitant.
To be eligible for the exemption, individual importers will need to provide a certificate from the Central or State Director of Health Services, District Medical Officer, or Civil Surgeon of the district.
Medicines generally attract a basic customs duty of 10 per cent, while some categories of lifesaving drugs or vaccines are either fully exempt or receive a concessional rate of 5 per cent.
Previously, certain drugs were granted exemptions for treating Spinal Muscular Atrophy or Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
However, the government has been receiving numerous requests for customs duty relief for drugs and medicines used to treat other rare diseases.
The cost of drugs or special foods required for treating these diseases is high and must be imported, reports CNBC-TV18.
It is estimated that the annual cost of treating some rare diseases for a 10 kg child can range from Rs 10 lakh to over Rs 1 crore per year.
In addition to the exemption for rare diseases, the government has also granted full exemption from basic customs duty for Pembrolizumab (Keytruda), a drug used to treat various types of cancer.
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