Delhi HC allows duty free import of mucormycosis drug till Centre decides
In an interim relief, the Delhi high court on Thursday allowed duty free import of drug Amphotericin-B, used for treating mucormycosis (also known as black fungus disease) patients, primarily those affected by it after recovering from Covid-19. The court said that the duty free import can be carried out after the importers furnish a bond till the Centre takes a final decision on waiving the customs duty on it.
The high court said the medicine is required to save lives of thousands of people suffering from mucormycosis and the central government shall seriously consider waiver of customs duty till the drug is in short supply in India.
"We direct if any import is made by any person, the same may be cleared by accepting the bond from the importer without actual payment of duty till a final decision on the said aspect is taken," the bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said in its order.
"The bond shall have the undertaking that in case the import duty is not waived, the duty shall be paid by the importer," the order further said.
The judges also said they have been assured that the customs shall clear all consignment of medicines of black fungus without any delay.
During the course of hearing, senior advocate Krishnan Venugopal - who appeared for one of the petitioners - said that there is an import duty of 27% on the drug and people who want to source it from their end will find difficulty in procuring the medicine.
The Centre said that there were seven manufacturers and five more have been added. The Centre's standing counsel Kirtiman Singh added that the government has asked more manufacturers and if they are interested, they can apply and the matter will be expeditiously considered.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently gave instructions to India missions across the world to get Amphotericin from anywhere in the world. The missions have been scouring for supply after the Prime Minister's instructions.
Meanwhile, American biopharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences said on Wednesday that it is working on accelerating the supply of Liposomal Amphotericin B injections (AmBisome) to India. The company said that it will supply a total of 1 million doses of AmBisome.
States have been hit hard by a shortage of Amphotericin B injections. The national capital has received 3,850 vials of Amphotericin B till Tuesday as against its weekly requirement of 30,000 doses.