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20 Jun, 2008 05:23

Healthier & wealthier: how prescription subsidy will change Russia

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has proposed creating a medical insurance system in which the state would subsidise prescription drugs. It’s likely to boost the sales of medicine in Russia, a market which has rece

“I propose creation of a kind of targeted co-financing of citizen’s expenses for medicine,” he said. “Actually it should be a kind of general system of medical insurance with governmental support which could help people to reduce expenses for medicine.”

Many Russians cannot afford imported medicine and still spend only about a third of what Europeans or North Americans do.

Analysts say the proposed scheme would enable all citizens to have equal opportunities to buy basic drugs.

“Everyone will be able to get not only free treatment but also free medical supplies. The investment in the sector will support not only developing medical centers, but also set up a special insurance industry, similar to that for cars. This reform will take 2 years,” explained David Melik-Guseinov, director of one of the biggest Russia’s pharmaceutical companies Pharmexpert.

Russia’s pharmaceutical market is one of the top ten in the world in terms of sales volume.

There are about 20 majors and 600 smaller companies operating in the country. But imports still account for nearly 75 % of the market by sales.

The Prime Minister said most domestic producers make cheap patent drugs while foreign players produce high value products and enjoy greater margins.