Covid-19: Govt waives import duty on Remdesivir injection, raw materials

The government on Tuesday waived customs duty on a key coronavirus (Covid-19) drug Remdesivir and its raw materials to lower cost amid a sharp increase in demand in the country.

According to a notification from the customs department, the duty waiver was for Remdesivir injection, Remdesivir API and Beta Cyclodextrin, a key input, till October 31, 2021.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal in a statement said, “In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s priority to ensure affordable medical care for Covid-19 patients, imports of Remdesivir API, injection and specific inputs have been made import duty free. This should increase supply and reduce cost thus providing relief to patients.

This comes a couple of days after all major producers of the medicine cut prices of the injection last week, with Cadila selling it at the lowest price point of Rs 899 per injection compared with Rs 2,400 per dose earlier. Cipla cut the price from Rs 4,000 per dose to Rs 3,000 per dose.

Given the shortage of supplies, the Union government last week banned the export of Remdesivir. The Drug Controller General of India approved the emergency use of Remdesivir on June 1, 2020.

Remdesivir is one of the drugs used for treating the SARS-CoV-2 virus in hospitalised adults. As the number of Covid-19 cases shot up in April in the country, severe Remdesivir shortage is being reported in the country, after which Cipla, Mylan, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Hetero Healthcare, Jubilant Generics, and Zydus Cadila got permission to produce and supply the drug in India, a generic version of the original drud by Gilead Life Sciences under voluntary licence.

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