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INDIAN AFFAIRS
AS CUSTOMS DUTY EXEMPTION GOES, 76 LIFE-SAVING DRUGS TO GET COSTLIER
February 6, 2016
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1.In a move that could inflate the cost of essential life-saving imported drugs, the Finance Ministry has withdrawn exemption of 76 medicines from customs duties. The list includes 10 HIV drugs and at least four cancer drugs, but haemophilia patients are likely to be the most affected by the decision.

2.Haemophilia is a genetic disorder in which the patient tends to bleed excessively. Anti-haemophilic factor concentrates (VIII & IX) that are given to patients to control the bleeding are off the list.

3.These concentrates are proteins that help the blood clot. Indian patients depend on American pharmaceutical company Baxter International for the proteins. “The two drugs — one is blood-based and it is a bad product from an Indian company. The other Indian alternative is a company that makes only IX but does not make factor VIII. We will die.

4.We need between 1,500-1,700 units a year and we already spend over Rs. 30,000 out of pocket. Withdrawal of exemption from import duty means the per-unit cost will go up by Rs. 3-Rs. 4,” said Rupal Panchal, founder of the Mumbai-based Haemophilia Society. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of exemption for anti-cancer and anti-retroviral (HIV/AIDS) medicines will not affect patients or drug prices as generic versions of these drugs are made in India.