According to a government news release, the government has exempted all imports of food and medications for use in treating rare diseases for personal use from basic customs duties. Starting on April 1, 2023, import duties will no longer be charged. Additionally, Pembrolizumab (Keytruda), a drug used in the treatment of different cancers, is exempt from basic customs duties. A basic customs tax of 10% is typically applied to drugs and medicines, with a concessional rate of 5% applied to some categories of life-saving medications and vaccines.
Food for Special Medical Purposes is a food formulation designed to offer dietary management to people with particular diseases, disorders, or medical conditions. An official document from the district's medical officer or civil surgeon, or the central or state director of health services, must be presented by the individual importer in order to qualify for this exemption.
"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." - Finance Ministry
While specific drugs used to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy or Spinal Muscular Atrophy have already received an exemption, the government has been getting numerous requests for customs duty relief for drugs and medicines used to treat other rare diseases. Drugs and Special Foods are expensive and must be imported in order to cure these diseases.
"This exemption will result in substantial cost savings and provide much needed relief to patients." - The Minister said