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Prices of some life-saving drugs, like cancer and HIV, are set to increase sharply as the Central Board of Excise and Customs ( CBEC) last week withdrew exemption of import duty on 74 critical drugs, Press Trust of India reported on 6 February.

Henceforth, customs duty charges will be applicable on 74 medicines which are used to treat kidney stones, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancers, bones diseases, Parkinson's diseases and on various other antibiotics.

"The withdrawal of exemption from basic customs duty for certain drugs and medicines include life-saving drugs is intended to provide protection to the domestic manufacturing industry and enhance the attractiveness of make in India initiative," Sachin Menon, KPMG India Partner and Head of Indirect Tax told the publication.

Apart from these, drugs for Asthma medication, Leukemia, HIV, Hepatitis B virus, Lupus and arthritis will also attract customs duty.

"An increase has also been made in the customs duty rates of certain life saving drugs such as abciximab, anti-rabies immunoglobin, FSH, procarbazine and saquinavir to 35 percent," MS Mani , Deloitte in India Senior Director was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India.

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