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18 Aug, 2009 07:07

Non prescription medicine to become more widely available

Russia’s Trade Ministry has proposed that grocers and supermarkets could start selling non-prescription medicines, with experts saying the new regulations may come to the rescue of troubled pharmacy chains.

Non prescription medicines, and beauty products, account for 75% of the revenues of one small pharmacy in Moscow’s suburbs. If food retailers and supermarkets are allowed to compete, the livelihood of many smaller pharmacies could be endangered. Pharmacist, Natalya Morina, says non prescription products are the bulk of the business.

“The share of medicines that need a prescription is less than 25% of overall sales. So, it’s mainly non prescription medicine. So, pharmacies like this will suffer most of all.”

ronically, the new regulations may help large pharmaceutical chains. One which is in trouble, after borrowing heavily to expand, is Pharmacy 36.6, which has debts of around $150 million, and has been closing shops as sales decline.

David Melik – Guseynov, marketing research director at Farmexpert, says broadening its range to include food could save the business.

“The market for medicine that needs a prescription is heavily regulated. And I see growth potential only in the non prescription segment, but few companies produce them. Large chains need new product categories. These regulations may allow them to start selling food, thus creating a new category of a health shop.”

However, market watchers believe that supermarkets may have little interest in selling medicine as they would have to hire medical specialists and meet tough conditions for storing medicines, while the potential profits would be unlikely to justify the expense.