The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognisance of reports that the Centre has recently removed a custom duty waiver and also imposed excise duty on certain life saving drugs, making them costlier for the patients.

The National Human Rights Commission has observed that any action that pushed up the cost of medicines was bound to adversely affect people’s right to health care, especially at a time when the healthcare system in the country as a whole was plagued with various ills.

The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Secretaries of the Union Ministry of Finance and Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, calling for their reports in the matter within four weeks.

According to the reports, the medicines on which excise duty will now be imposed include the ones used for treating kidney stones, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, life-threatening heart rhythm disorders, Parkinson’s disease, bone disease, infections, leukemia, allergies, arthritis and lupus.

In total, the government has withdrawn concession on custom duty of 76 key drugs, claiming that it was necessary “in public interest”.

Forty-seven of these medicines are part of the National List of Essential Medicines.

Panel says that any action that raises cost of medicine affects people’s right to health care