The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent notices to Union Ministries of Finance and Health over reported imposition of excise duty on life-saving drugs making them costlier.
The Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that the Centre has removed a custom duty waiver and also imposed excise duty on certain life saving drugs making them costlier for patients, observing that,”At a time when the healthcare system in the country as a whole is plagued with various ills, any action that pushes up the cost of medicines is bound to adversely affect people’s right to healthcare.”
It issued notices to the Secretaries of the ministries of Finance and Health and Family Welfare, calling for reports within four weeks.
According to the media report dated February 8, the medicines on which excise duty will now be imposed include those used for treating kidney stones, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, life-threatening heart rhythm disorders, Parkinson’s disease, bone disease, antibiotic to treat infections, leukemia, allergies, arthritis and lupus, said an NHRC statement.
In total, the government withdrew the concession on customs duty of 76 key drugs claiming that it is necessary “in public interest”. 47 of these medicines are part of National List of Essential Medicines, the statement added.