Slash Import Duty on Diets for Kids with Metabolic Error: MERD

The Metabolic Errors and Rare Disease (MERD) organisation of India has urged the government to slash or waive import duties levied on life-saving diets required for children with such problems in the country.

The demand by the parents’ association comes as many families of children with metabolic error find it difficult to afford such diets which now attract 30-40 per cent import duties.

Currently, India reports nearly 50,000 newborns with Inborn Errors of Metabolism (IEM) in which the body cannot properly turn food into energy. On an average, a parent of an affected child has to spend Rs 2.5 lakh yearly on their treatment, including buying Food for Special Medical Purposes (FMSP) diets.

According to the association, companies like Danone, Nestle, Mead Johnson and Abbott are importing FSMP diets at high duties and further levy GST on them. In many developing countries, these diets attract 5 to 10 per cent duty only.

According to MERD India, such speciality foods were not readily available in India until 2017 and the family of the kids suffering from IEMs used to struggle with paperwork for permission to import these.

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