How Petersburgers are looking for medicines that have disappeared from pharmacies. “Paper”
Petersburg from pharmacies gone several drugs vital for people with immunodeficiency and Parkinson’s disease. In addition, the popular antibiotic Amoxiclav and its analogues, an antidepressant, have disappeared. “Zoloft” and other medicines.
“Paper” I found out how big the problem is and how the residents of the city cope with the shortage of medicines.
The father of a Petersburger, Anastasia, suffered a heart attack in the winter. To recover, the doctor prescribed the French drug Plavix for him – Anastasia immediately bought the medicine for the future, having managed before the war. But by the fall, stocks ran out.
“Plavix disappeared from pharmacies already in August. Maybe earlier, but until that time, what was bought was enough. And the doctor, head of the department and doctor of medical sciences, highly recommended drinking it, because only it has the desired effect, ”says Anastasia.
The Petersburger began to look for ways to get the missing medicine: “The first time they ordered through Kazakhstan, they brought it by agreement. This time I began to look in St. Petersburg, so that it would be faster. ”
In November, Anastasia found a chat for exchanging drugs, asked about Plavix, and a girl immediately wrote to her, ready to give it away – for free. Anastasia took the medicine through a courier.
Such chats in St. Petersburg exist semi-underground. There are two restrictions under the law: medicines can only be given free of charge and they must not be prescription drugs. And almost all the drugs with which there are problems are dispensed by prescription.
Interruptions with medicines in St. Petersburg regularly occurred in previous years, but in 2022 they turned out to be larger and dragged on.
Shortly after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, several Western manufacturers announced they were pulling out of the Russian market for political reasons. In the spring, they began to submit applications to the Ministry of Health to cancel the registration of their drugs in Russia.
As a result, dozens of popular drugs disappeared from the market: contraceptives, antidepressants, the Czech-made expectorant Ambrosan, the Slovenian gastroprotector Venter, the German antifungal Candibene, and others.
The list of drugs that have lost their registration is stable is replenishedand not only foreign names, but also Russian ones – now there are not enough components to create medicines and manufacturers refuse to release.
The country also lacks raw materials for the production of the most basic medicines. In November 2022, antibiotics based on amoxicillin disappeared in St. Petersburg. Government-linked portal “Explain.RF” acknowledged shortage of Amoxiclav, Amoxicillin, Augmentin, Pantsef, Ecoclave and named two reasons: seasonal rush demand and lack of clavulanic acid – they promise to bring it from India and China in a month.
In the Ministry of Industry and Trade addedthat “Amoksiklav” bought up “in reserve” – including those mobilized.
“Given the completion of partial mobilization measures, as well as the entry of new domestic manufacturers into the market, it is predicted that in the near future, failures in the supply of the pharmacy network will stop,” officials of the Ministry of Industry and Trade promised.
Also in Petersburg lacks immunoglobulin for humans for intravenous administration – for this drew attention in the Society of Patients with Primary Immunodeficiency (SOPID), as well as in the Sunflower Foundation. Ministry of Health denies the problem, referring to the fact that in the first 10 months of the year 388,000 packages of the drug were put into circulation in Russia, which corresponds to last year’s level.
In addition, as already mentioned “Paper”, patients with Parkinson’s disease faced a shortage of vital drugs. And the Petersburgers who took the Zoloft antidepressant had to change its analogues due to the fact that the manufacturer stopped deliveries to Russia.
Petersburgers are looking for missing medicines in social networks, regional publics and communities where you can give away unused packages for free. But there are limitations here. “[Исчезающие] foreign drugs are usually prescription drugs. It is forbidden to give them away under the law, ”explains Petr Levin, administrator of the group“Pharmacysharing. St. Petersburg”, where almost 8 thousand Petersburgers exchange medicines.
“In general, about 70% of pharmacy drugs, not only foreign ones, must be sold by prescription. But since in practice they are sold just like that, resentment arises when we do not publish ads for security reasons,” says Petr.
Aptekashering had a discussion where people themselves could post ads about unnecessary medicines. But on November 3, the VKontakte administration deleted it without warning or explanation. Posts with prescription drugs “Aptesharing” tries not to miss, but it’s difficult, because in Russia there is no single list of prescription drugs. Everything has to be checked manually.
“A couple of weeks ago, we accidentally slipped a post with a German prescription drug, which, apparently, ended in pharmacies,” Levin recalls. – A whole srach formed in the comments. A person is ready to give away for free, but instead of thanking him, they attacked him: “You bought everything, then there is a deficit.” That is, people are still willing to share what they do not need. In total, there are 1073 such entries in the “suggestion” now, five or six new ones appear every day. But gratitude does not always await their authors.
Chat rooms where people look for prescription drugs also exist. But administrators ask not to disclose their coordinates. They fear that the transfer of medicines via the Internet may qualify as a sale. Then the participants can be held accountable: depending on the volume of transferred, you can get a fine of up to 40 thousand, arrest from 15 days or imprisonment up to 3 years.
Medicines are still not included in the list of goods prohibited for import into Russia. But Western pharmaceutical companies continue to withdraw their brands from the Russian market and curtail business in the country.
Officially gone American company Bristol-Myers Squibb – it was developing drugs for the treatment of HIV, hepatitis B, arthritis, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
In October, Vedomosti wrote according to a source that a large Finnish company Orion Pharma is leaving Russia. Last year, Russia accounted for approximately 4% of its total sales. Company representatives deny these rumors.
Now, according to the director of the St. Petersburg Medical Forum, Sergei Anufriev, the scale of losses is still small, but it can grow.
“Since the plans of pharmaceutical companies (for production and sales) were drawn up in 2021 and are being implemented in 2022, so far everything is more or less. What will happen in 2023 is a big question, Anufriev warns. — It is difficult to predict how Western manufacturers will behave, because [прекращение поставок] it’s still a political decision. But up to 80% of medicines in Russia contain foreign components or are even imported.”
Estimated Yakov & Partners (a former Russian division of the American McKinsey), in 2023, due to dependence on imports, up to 95% of the Russian pharmaceutical market may be at risk.
According to the same firm, for 2022 the share of foreign pharmaceutical companies in the Russian market is about 25% in the budget (for hospitals) and 23% in the commercial sectors.
Officials and director of the Association of Independent Pharmacies Victoria Presnyakova considerthat the problem with medicines and their components can be solved by switching to Asian analogues (generics). Now Asian companies occupy only 6.8% of the Russian market, but, according to forecaststheir share will grow.
A working group under the Ministry of Education and Science develops strategy of medicinal sovereignty of Russia. According to the ministry’s calculations, the country should reach the goal by 2030: if at least 200 billion rubles are allocated for the program, Russia will be able to provide itself with medicines by 85% and will export 50 original medicines.
At the same time, the current Russian analogues of Western drugs are noticeably inferior to them in quality due to poor control of production and testing: drugs are worse tolerated and may not be effective enough. About it “Paper” told Professor of the Department of Health Management and Economics of the National Research University Higher School of Economics Viktor Vlasov and psychologist-consultant Dmitry Dyukov.