Russia sets out limits to purchasing imported meds

Russia is tightening the screws on foreign drugmakers. Already under orders to partner up with domestic companies and establish local production facilities, global pharma companies will now be squeezed out of state purchasing deals.

As PharmaTimes reports, Russia plans to bar overseas suppliers of particular meds if at least two domestic alternatives are already available. The protective move is part of President Vladimir Putin's push to build up a Russian pharma industry, with 90% of "strategically important" medicines produced in-country by 2018.

Previously, Putin has urged multinational drugmakers to not only ally themselves with Russian drugmakers, but to be prepared to produce their meds in Russia--and to transfer technology to their Russian partners. Alongside those demands came a pledge to amp up funding for drugs--by $3.9 billion--so that foreign investment might actually pay off.

Right now, PharmaTimes notes, 85% of Russia's state drug spending goes to foreign-made drugs. In 2011, 93% of the most expensive meds sold in the country were imported. So, moving the needle in the opposite direction will freeze out a lot of foreign-made drug sales.

So, Big Pharma has been only too happy to comply with Putin's demands for a local presence. Novartis ($NVS), AstraZeneca ($AZN), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Novo Nordisk ($NVO) are among the drugmakers who are socking big money into Russian infrastructure and partnerships, in a bid to capture a share of that market. As one of the faster-growing worldwide, the Russian drug market is a sort of promised land for pharma companies whose sales growth in mature markets is languishing.

- read the PharmaTimes piece