Excise duty reduction on life-saving drugs welcomed

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Mumbai, Feb 29 (UNI) The medical fraternity here welcomed the Union Budget for the year 2008-09 presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram today.

People's Health organisation (PHO) secretary general Dr I S Gilada has welcomed the decision to reduce excise duty on live-saving drugs from ten per cent to five. But, the excise duty should be completely removed, he said.

He, however, expressed doubts over the claim that HIV incidence had come down from 0.9 per cent to 0.36 per cent.

But, Dr H B Singh, attached to Aids Research and Control Organisation (ARCON) here, said that due to increasing awareness programmes in the country, the figure of the HIV patients has definitely came down.

Dr R K Gada, another medical practitioner from the metropolis, has also welcomed the reduction in excise duty.

An HIV infected person from the metropolis was happy that excise duty reduction would lead to lowering the prices of the life-saving drugs.

Yogesh Mehta, a 64-year-old heart patient, said, ''My medicines are very costly, and I need to take them regularly. The reduction in the excise duty is thus a welcome step.'' Lehri Soni Jain, a house wife who is suffering from initial-stage cancer, too echoed similar sentiments. ''The reduction is welcome, but excise duty on life-saving drugs should be completely waived off,'' she said.

But, the chemists have opined that a cut in the excise duty will not affect the prices of the drugs much. The reduction in prices will only be marginal, according to Rajesh Jain, a chemist from Parel near the KEM Hospital. ''These medicinees are consumed mostly by the rich and the reduction will not affect them much,'' he opined.

UNI ST/JN MAZ RL ND1515

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