Staunton, December 12 – Russia faces a serious challenge in producing medicines domestically that it had been importing until Moscow’s counter-sanctions effort, a challenge complicated by a weak pharmaceutical industry, tensions between the state and academic researchers, and overly long periods between the invention of a drug and its production.
All three of these problems were discussed at a meeting this week of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where speakers stressed the fact that in the US and EU, drugs are marketed five to six years after their invention while in Russia, the time lag is twice as long, ten to twelve years.
And that long lead time, one that both the Ministry of Health and the Academy of Sciences hope to shorten, prompted the Regnum news agency to headline its report on the session “Will Russia survive until the release of its own unique medications?”
Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova told the group that “all the tasks the government has set for itself,” including “improving the demographic situation” depend on the development of domestically designed and produced medications and medical equipment and on speeding up the introduction of innovations after they are made.
Regnum observed that Skvortsova’s suggestion that the government must cooperate with the Academy of Sciences in this effort represents “a sharp contrast with the recent past when health ministers avoided meetings with academics and cynically ignored the opinion of the scientific community.”
But cooperation between the Academy of Sciences and the Health Ministry will not be enough, Academician Aleksandr Chuchalin said. What is needed is the development of a pharmaceutical market, and creating that, he pointed out, is something that “the Academy cannot do because that is not its responsibility.”
Instead, the government itself is going to have to change its approach if it wants medicines to be developed domestically and then quickly introduced, he continued. “The bureaucratic system prolongs the registration of these medications for many years, from three to five,” more than necessary.
And Academician Aleksandr Aseyev said this task is urgent. “The problem of pharmacological security is one of the component parts of the security of the state, just as important as food security, defense security and fighting terrorism.” Russia has lost a lot of time, he said, but he expressed the hope that “the situation is not hopeless.”