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Drug import tax wavered

Global drug firms have welcomed a decision this week by the East African Community to temporarily suspend its 10 percent tax on drugs imported into the region. The tax, which was imposed in January, has drawn concern from industry experts and AIDS activists that people on chronic medication for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and hypertension would be particularly hard hit. "We are happy with the suspension, and request that it be made permanent because of the tax's implications for access to drugs, such as antiretrovirals and antimalarials, by the poor," the Kenya manager for US drug giant Merck Sharp and Dohme, Melanie Ribeiro, told the Kenya's East African Standard newspaper. The cost of anti-AIDS medication and other drugs is now expected to drop in the region, which imports around 80 percent of its medicines.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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