Expressing concern over the sudden increase in price of life-saving drugs, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday tweeted that the Centre should reconsidering its decision on removing customs duty waiver and imposing excise duty on life-saving drugs.
Banerjee tweeted, “I am deeply concerned by the sudden increase in Customs duties on life-saving drugs. Price rise needs to be addressed urgently.” In a subsequent tweet she again stated: “Medicines for cancer, diabetes, parkinson disease, heart or kidney disorders and women’s health are become too expensive for thousands who need them.”
Later at Nabanna on Monday, she said as per different studies around 80 per cent of the population is diabetic. “It is not a matter of one or two people. Since such a huge percentage of people are affected by disease, it is difficult for them to arrange money to buy medicine if price of life saving drugs go up so often,” she said, adding that all such factors should be taken into consideration before imposing the duties.
“I know chemo therapy is very expensive. What will the family members of a cancer patient do if the expense for such treatment further goes up?” she stated.
Raising the issue of the hike in medicines prices used by women, Banerjee said: “The 50 per cent of population is women. The expense of a household goes up if a woman needs to buy medicine at a higher price.”
There are Fair Price Medicine Shops at different hospitals in the state. When the state government is trying to supporting the common people by helping them buy medicines at a cheaper rate from the fair price medicine shops, the hike in the price of medicines due to the increase in duty is affecting the common people, she said. She expressed her concern over skyrocketing prices of life saving drugs in the past one-and-a- half year.
“When increasing the salary of government employees as per the proposals of the pay commission is the duty of government, it is also its responsibility to bring down the prices of medicines as all are not government employees,” she said while raised a question that how people, those who are from unorganised sector, will manage the situation.
It may be mentioned that prices of around 74 life saving drugs have gone up after the Centre removed customs duty waiver and imposed excise duty.