India Scraps Import Duties on AIDS Drugs to Battle Shortage

Monday, June 15, 2015

India has scrapped customs import duties for drugs and test kits used to treat AIDS in an effort to cut prices across the country, as it struggles to cope with an ongoing shortage in its national program to fight the disease.

More than a third of India’s 2.1 million HIV/AIDS patients depend on getting their daily antiretrovirals for free from state-run distribution centers, but many of them have been facing shortages or stock outs for months.

The notice put out by the Central Board of Excise and Customs this week intends to make it cheaper to import raw materials that are used to make antiretrovirals under the national program, BB Rewari of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) told Reuters.

Currently, U.S. firm Mylan Inc and India’s Aurobindo Pharma supply AIDS drugs to the government program.

The exemption applies to certain first-line and second-line antiretroviral drugs used to treat adults and children, as well as to certain diagnostic kits and equipment that are used by NACO, Rewari said.

He added the drugs under exemption make up roughly 95 percent of the antiretrovirals used by India’s AIDS patients under the national program.

Source: Reuters (link opens in a new window)

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Health Care
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aid agencies, drugs, health care