Putin says Russia is facing a shortage of medicines due to the war with Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that there was a shortage of certain medicines in Russia despite the country producing more of its own medicines, and suggested stockpiling popular medicines to meet demand.

While prescription drugs are exempt from Western sanctions imposed because of the war in Ukraine, their supply to Russia is hit by transport, insurance and customs hurdles caused by the war and other restrictive measures, industry figures say.

“There is a shortage of some medicines, despite the fact that we saw the production of pharmaceuticals grow by about 22% in the (first) three quarters of last year,” Putin said in a televised meeting with government officials.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference in Minsk, Belarus on December 19, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference in Minsk, Belarus on December 19, 2022.
(Sputnik/Pavel Bednyakov/Kremlin via REUTERS)

“Sixty percent of the drugs on the market are home drugs. Yet some drugs have developed shortages and prices have risen.”

He added that Russia does not restrict drug imports and continues to cooperate with foreign manufacturers.

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“We have to make sure that there are stocks of the most popular drugs within a certain period of time,” he said, suggesting that Russia could build up medicines for the flu season in the same way as gas reserves in preparation for winter.

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, Russians rushed to stock up on drugs, with people buying a month’s worth of drugs in just two weeks.

Russia also imports much of its medical equipment, such as pacemakers and radiotherapy devices, from the European Union and the United States, and its dependence is particularly acute for the most complex and critical machines.

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