Central government has waived the custom duty on Remdesivir injections and the active pharmaceuticals ingredients (API) after "being satisfied that it is necessary in the public interest to do so", a statement from Ministry of Finance said.
The government also ended customs duty on Beta Cyclodextrin (SBEBCD) used in the manufacture of Remdesivir. The waiver for this item is subject to the condition that the importer follows the procedure set out in the Customs (Import of Goods at Concessional Rate of Duty) Rules, 2017, the Finance Ministry noted.
This customs duty waiver will remain in effect till October 31, 2021, and is among the measures to increase the production and supply of the anti-COVID-19 drug as infections rise rapidly.
Although being approved as an investigational drug for strict use under hospital conditions, Remdesivir has seen a surge in demand over the recent few days in India as the second wave of COVID-19 cases is sweeping across the country. With this increase in demand, central government has been trying to ramp up the production of the drug as well as reduce its prices.
Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Mansukh Mandaviya had held meetings with drug manufacturers and other stakeholders on April 12 and 13 in which decisions were taken to increase production and reduce prices of Remdesivir. Seven manufacturers in India have reduced the prices for their brands of Remdesivir in the range of Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,700.
As per government data, the current total installed capacity of the seven manufacturers of Remdesivir is 38.80 lakh vials per month. Fast-track approval has been given for seven additional sites having production capacity of 10 lakh vials per month to six manufacturers. Another 30 lakh vials per month are lined up for production. This is expected to ramp up the production capacity for manufacturing to around 78 lakh vials per month.
(Edited by Vivek Punj)