The federal Finance Minister announced lowering of customs duty on as many as nine specified drugs, mainly biologics, used in treatment of cancer, HIV, hepatitis-B, arthritis drugs and two life-saving cardiac devices.
The reduction ranges from ten per cent to five per cent on medicines and bulk drugs, and from 7.5 per cent to five per cent on devices.
Also, Piramal healthcare Director Swati Pirmal noted, "Excise duty remaining at four per cent and implementation of GST should reduce transaction costs, and the patients should stand to benefit ultimately."
However, the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry expressed their disappointment, saying their demands for tax incentives for R&D have been ignored. "The pharma industry has neither gained anything and nor lost anything in the Budget, there is nothing in it for us to celebrate," said Indian Drug Manufacturer Association Executive Director Gajanan Wakankar.
Fortis Healthcare Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Shivinder Mohan Singh said, "Healthcare sector has been ignored. We had been expecting a boost for the healthcare infrastructure, but nothing has been said on it. Budget was mute.
We are disappointed."
However, reduction of customs duty and zero excise duty on certain medical device is likely to rationalize the cost of treatment of heart ailments. The devices are generally expensive for a large size population suffering from heart ailments in India, and hence rationalization should make the devices that much cheaper, said Ernst & Young Partner and National Leader, Health Sciences Practice, Hitesh Sharma said.