Comprehensive review charts how Russia’s pharmaceutical market is changing in response to covid-19

Covid-19 has compounded the Russian government's determination to push on with its localisation agenda and to move quickly on many other healthcare-related initiatives, such as online pharmacies. Gowlings’ comprehensive report, now in its third edition, presents an invaluable status report and extensive review of the trademark aspects of the pharmaceutical industry in Russia today – a market valued at almost $30 billion, according to the recent Deloitte report “Russian Pharmaceutical Trends in 2020”.

With a population of 145 million people, Russia has the world’s 14th largest pharmaceutical market in terms of volume of sales, with almost 8% annual market growth before the pandemic. At the same time, more than 70% of medicines in the commercial sector are imported from abroad.

For this reason, there has been a strong and accelerating mandate to establish an effective and innovative pharmaceutical industry in Russia that can stand and succeed on its own. This has left multinational innovators wondering what long-term presence they can hope to have in Russia. Observers and participants see dynamic changes and long-ranging opportunities, but these must be weighed against a backdrop of possible further sanctions and counter-sanctions, Russian economic stagnation and other challenges. 

In 2009 the Russian government introduced its ambitious Pharma 2020 plan to develop and foster innovation and the localisation of the Russian pharmaceutical market. Among other things, the plan incentivised international pharma companies with long-term interests in Russia to localise production. It also clearly encouraged the market to favour locally produced medicines.

Pharma 2020’s successor, Draft Pharma 2030, was unveiled in 2018. It identified key problems remaining in the industry and pushed for a still more aggressive localised and innovation-driven programme. The plan allocates funds for the further development of the Russian pharmaceutical sector.

This newly released review begins with an economic overview of the pharmaceutical industry in Russia and the drive to grow the market for locally produced medicines. It then takes a detailed look at the legal foundations for the protection of trademarks in Russia, followed by a guide to recent decisions by the Russian IP Court and the Supreme Arbitration Court. Next, it examines the counterfeit pharmaceuticals market, as well as ongoing efforts to combat this. Finally, there is an analysis of parallel imports of pharmaceuticals into Russia, along with concerns about what the possible legalisation of parallel importation could mean for the pharma sector.

In particular, the report highlights that before the pandemic, online pharmacies in Russia were illegal. The Russian Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development had been preparing an initiative to legalise the distance sale of medicines, but a presidential decree in April 2020 pushed things along as an emergency response to covid-19. The decree allows for the online sale of over-the-counter drugs, but only by otherwise licensed pharmacies. It also further strengthens the controls over counterfeit or otherwise unauthorised drugs.

You can read the full report here.

This is an Insight article, written by a selected partner as part of IAM's co-published content. Read more on Insight

Unlock unlimited access to all IAM content