By Paul Goble
Russian pharmaceutical firms, caught between government-imposed prices on vital medicines and dramatically rising costs for foreign components, are dramatically cutting back or even ending the production of vital medicines putting the health of thousands upon thousands of Russians at risk.
And this situation, compounded by Moscow’s counter-sanctions, means that many are going to suffer even though Vladimir Putin promised in his “Direct Line” broadcast to address the situation and even though the government has pledged to address the issue and possibly raise subsidies to the firms sometime this summer.
Under the headline, “Pharmacy Companies are Refusing to Produce Vitally Necessary and Most Important Medicines,” “Vedomosti” today reports that the situation, already dire since early 2015 has now become worse as a result of a decision by a major St. Petersburg producer (vedomosti.ru/business/articles/2016/05/11/640558-otechestvennie-farmkompanii-otkazivayutsya-vipuskat-nedorogie-zhiznenno-neobhodimie-vazhneishie-lekarstva).
The paper’s Anastasiya Demidova reports that “the government has less than a month in order to decide the issue of [state] support for certain inexpensive medicines, a category that includes the most widely used drugs and one that Russian consumers are thus most sensitive to any change.
But even if the government increases subsidies for the manufacture of these medications, experts say, there will be a delay in the restarting of regular production, with some companies not just reducing production but eliminating it entirely and then re-registering the new medications after subsidies go up.
The Russian government maintains a list of 646 medications that it deems vitally important. Seventy percent of these are produced in Russia, including many of the most inexpensive and widely used. But many of these include imported components and prices for those have gone up dramatically with the fall of the ruble (snob.ru/selected/entry/108216).