Govt withdraws customs exemption on 74 drugs, prices to rise

New Delhi : As many as 74 drugs, including life saving ones used for treating cancer and HIV, will see sharp rise in prices as the government has withdrawn customs duty exemption on their imports.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) last week issued a notification withdrawing exemption of levy of basic customs duty on as many as 74 drugs.


The medicines on which customs duty will now be imposed include the ones used for treating kidney stones, cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy, life-threatening heart rhythm disorders, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, bone diseases, antibiotic to treat infections.

Besides, drugs used for bacterial infections, leukemia, anesthetic medication, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis B virus cells, allergies, arthritis, lupus and ulcerative colitis might also see spurt in prices.

Also drugs used in blood dilating medicine or for treating menopause, glaucoma, anogenital warts, poisoning by a chemical or pesticide, growth failure in children and adults who lack natural growth hormone would also attract customs duty.

“The withdrawal of exemption from basic customs duty for certain drugs and medicines including life-saving drugs is intended to provide protection to the domestic manufacturing industry and enhance the attractiveness of make in India initiative,” KPMG India Partner and Head of Indirect Tax Sachin Menon said.

“An increase has also been made in the customs duty rates of certain life saving drugs such as abciximab, anti-rabies immunoglobin, FSH, procarbazine and saquinavir to 35 per cent,” Deloitte in India Senior Director MS Mani said.

These changes signify the intention of the government to promote domestic manufacture of these items as imports would now become more expensive, Mani said.

Menon said the move seems to be in line with the government’s objective to rationalise the duty exemptions.


  1. The healthcare budget cutting 20%. Who are affected? The poor.
    50% budget cutting of the women and children development run by Maneka Gandhi. Who are affected? The poor.
    Now putting duty on medicines. The BJP Government may have a contract with the other world to send more souls earlier to increase the export of human souls. What a caring Government?


      While I was going through my old emails, I came across the above (18.12.2013) sent to me by one of my friends and felt that it is worth reading. It shows the political bias of media for which, in return, they get favours and awards from the government of the day. I found that the information has a pro-Congress leaning. However, in the same light there are many in media who would naturally have BJP, RSS and other political leanings. Microscopically few are saints in the murky business of Indian politics and if someone disagrees with me on this count, then he does not want to admit the truth or something is wrong with him.

      Please do not misjudge me to be BJP, Congress or any other political party stooge, simply because I categorize most politicians are totally corrupt for whom the priority is themselves, their families and their parties strength and unity (as they are the gooses laying the golden eggs) and they are least bothered about their country, people, scandals, frauds and irregularities. Politics is the worst profession in India and politicians are a despicable breed.

  2. Dear readers,

    The rise of a new India has to be built on the foundation of a healthy India. Countries around the globe have kept health care at the core of their economic development. The socio-economic benefit of a strong health-care sector not only translates in the creation of a healthy and more productive community but it is also one of the world’s largest and fastest growing sectors.

    The government has ordered a cut of nearly 20 percent in its 2014/15 healthcare budget due to fiscal strains, putting at risk key disease control initiatives in a country whose public spending on health is already among the lowest in the world.Despite rapid economic growth over the past two decades, successive governments have kept a tight rein on healthcare expenditure. India spends about 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on public health, compared to 3 percent in China and 8.3 percent in the United States.

    In earlier move PM Modi’s government has allowed pharmaceutical companies to hike rates of 509 essential medicines used for treating various ailments like diabetes, hepatitis and cancer by 3.84%.Injections used to treat hepatitis B and C, certain types of cancer and fungal infections have become costlier.

    The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has issued a notification for price hike of drugs in line with the wholesale price index of 2014 under Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), 2013.

    “As confirmed by the economic adviser (Minister of Commerce and Industry), the annual increase in the wholesale price index (WPI) works out at 3.84 per cent during calendar year 2014 over the corresponding period in 2013,” NPPA said in a notification.
    According to the notification, antibiotics which have Amoxicillin capsules have also become costlier with effect from April 1.The government had notified DPCO, 2013, which covers 680 formulations, with effect from May 15, 2014, replacing the 1995 order that regulated prices of only 74 bulk drugs.

    This new regulation on customs exemption on 74 drugs comes after,The Union Government’s) decision to decontrol prices of 108 drugs — used to treat tuberculosis, AIDS, diabetes and heart ailments — has jacked up their prices. In some cases, prices have seen an unbelievable rise. The price of Glivec, an anti-cancer tablet, for example, has risen from Rs 8,500 to Rs 1.08 lakh. Plavix, used to treat blood pressure and heart ailments, will cost Rs 1,615, against the earlier Rs 147. An anti-rabi injection, Kamrab, priced at Rs 2,670, will now cost Rs 7,000. In a circular issued before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, the government asked the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), an autonomous body, to withdraw its May 2014 guidelines on drug price control.

    ‘Health is wealth’, or so goes the famous saying. ​For PM Modi’s India even apple day is meager while ‘Yoga’ is only option’.India with highest number of diabetic patients with price rise,there will be sharp increase in amputees who can’t afford medication.

    It seems ‘Acche din’ for pharmaceutical lobby on the behest of poor Indians who can’t afford health care.

    Jai Hind

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