Staunton, Nov. 10 – Even in Russia’s largest cities, more than 65 percent of vitally necessary medicines have disappeared from the shelves of pharmacies since the start of Vladimir Putin’s expanded invasion of Ukraine, and Russian hospitals have reduced their purchases of imported medicines by as much as 25 percent, Darya Talanova says.
The Novaya Gazeta journalist says the situation is thus far worse that Russian officials say and will only get worse because Russia is not in a position to purchase many medicines abroad from reliable suppliers or produce substitutes and as a result ever more Russians are suffering and dying (novayagazeta.eu/articles/2023/11/09/ot-voiny-net-lekarstv).
At the start of this year, the health ministry warned about deficits in 86 medicines. Then in Augusst, it expanded this list to 200, Talanova says. There is no reason to think that things are going to get better; indeed, there is every reason to believe that it will continue to get worse with serious consequences for the health of Russians.
Russia has suffered from shortages of some kinds of medicines for years; but in the last two, since the expanded war began, it has suffered far more severely and especially in medicines for HIV/AIDS and cancer where Russian manufacturers have not been able to produce alternatives.
As of now, shortages of medicines have been kept to a minimum in Moscow; but the farther one goes beyond the ring road, the greater the shortages are.
Putin and his regime claim that Russian manufacturers can produce alternatives; but that claim is deceptive because at present, these firms are produces not generics, which are exact copies of other drugs, but rather what are known as “bio-similar” drugs, which contain the same active ingredient but have not been subject to testing and often do not work as well.
Every fifth Russian patient now can’t get the medicines he or she needs; and these shortages are sparking protests of various kinds. So far, however, the Kremlin has proven deaf to such appeals from the sick – and has even decided to cut back on government spending in the medical sector over the next three years.