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Working to get generic drugs exempt from GST: Ananth Kumar

As pharmaceutical firms prepare themselves to implement GST from July 1

Veena Mani  |  New Delhi 

Trying to get generic medicines exempt from GST, says Ananth Kumar

Even as pharmaceutical companies prepare themselves to come under the ambit from July 1, Pharmaceuticals Minister on Tuesday said the Department of Pharmaceuticals was trying to get exempt from These are the drugs sold at Janaushadhi stores, which provide affordable medicines for all under the government's flagship scheme.
The minister said, “We are trying to get exempt from or at least bare minimum.”At present, the government has levied 12% on all drugs except essential ones which are in the 5% bracket. The pharmaceutical industry had been lobbying for a lower tax slab for all drugs. 
With only 1,600 and a huge task of opening 3,000 Jan Aushadhi Stores, the Department of Pharmaceuticals is getting into an agreement with the Ministry of Railways. The Indian Railways will set up these stores at railway stations and any other property owned by it. The government was supposed to open 3,000 stores by March 31, 2017. At present, around 1,200-odd stores are run by private players and the remaining are at government hospitals.
While the government is working on increasing the number of stores, there is a lacuna in the number of drugs available in these stores.

As Business Standard had reported earlier that only about the number of drugs in the list of drugs are supposed to be available are there on the shelves. Shop owners state that procurement is a hassle.

Apart from the Indian Railways, the Department of Pharmaceuticals has also sought help from public sector undertakings in the oil, steel, power sectors to open stores in their premises. Drugs at these stores are unbranded generics and available at prices that are much lower than what is available in the market.