INDIA TO REDUCE CANCER DRUG COSTS
New plans being formulated by the Indian government will seek to exempt all oncology treatments from customs and excise taxes. Currently, peak customs duty stands at 16%, while excise duties are as much as 15%, although both vary from product to product. Industry observers expect the measures to significantly reduce the prices of around 63 cancer medicines.
The move is part of a government strategy to increase access to essential drugs for the country's low-income population. Under new proposals, the drug industry will also have to reduce its margins on certain medicines and pass the savings onto patients. Meanwhile, there will be a 50% subsidy for cancer drugs sold through retail outlets in hospitals.
Other recent policies have included the implementation of health insurance schemes for low-income patients. The government is also considering a programme whereby medicines are purchased directly by the Ministry of Health at discounted rates and distributed at low cost through hospitals.
Although, drug prices are relatively low in India, at least in global terms,
almost 30% of the population are beneath the poverty line and cannot afford
medicines. As a result, India has high levels of a number of chronic diseases
such as leprosy, diabetes, cardiac diseases and tuberculosis. Cancer affects
approximately 700,000 to 900,000 people in the country annually.