Fears in Russia over pharmaceutical supplies

Russia lacks insulin and other important medical supplies produced abroad, business daily Kommersant reported on Wednesday, including raw materials essential for the production of drugs in the country.

Concerns arise after a wave of Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine began to hit the Russian economy and dozens of major Western brands announced they were leaving the market.

Federal medical regulator Roszdravnadzor and a national pharmacy association attributed the insulin shortages to “urgent consumer demand,” Kommersant said.

The Kremlin-aligned business daily, however, noted that most of the diabetes drugs used in Russia are also produced in the country and that there have been no disruptions to production and distribution chains.

Several patients interviewed by Kommersant said there was a rush for insulin because other medical devices used by diabetics are produced overseas, and they expected a general price increase or shortages caused by the sanctions.

Western sanctions against the Russian military incursion into Ukraine have so far focused on Russian banks, oil and gas, without targeting the medical sector.

Still, Kommersant said, Russian companies could be left without imported raw materials and components.

He reported that deliveries from Europe have virtually ceased and those from China and India – which account for up to 80% of imports – have been hampered by supply chain disruptions.

Local stocks are expected to last three to six months, he said.

The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the collapse of Russia’s prized pharmaceutical industry and ushered in a period when the country was dependent on Western laboratories.

Moscow has been working to reduce its dependence on the West, a policy advanced after EU and US sanctions following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

However, local production is still largely dependent on imported raw materials.

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