Sanctions and medicines: how to order drugs in low supply abroad

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Sanctions and medicines: how to order drugs in low supply abroad
Sanctions and medicines: how to order drugs in low supply abroad
13 April, 13:21Photo: 1MI
Along with anti-Russian sanctions, a shortage of certain medicines came to Russia. People have to look for drugs abroad on their own. Novye Izvestia figured out how to do this so as not to go to jail.

Victoria Pavlova

Someone simply does not trust domestic drugs and generics produced in Russia, doctors recommended buying imported drugs instead of domestic ones, and someone's life depends on drugs that are not produced in Russia. One way or another, but 53% of the pharmaceutical market in our country is accounted for by imported drugs, and only 35 of the 162 strategically important synthetic drugs have domestic manufacturers .

Imports are complicated by the reluctance of Western companies to work in Russia, the ban on Russian transport companies from working in Europe, and the unstable ruble exchange rate (everyone is waiting for the situation on the market to settle down). Because of this, there has recently been a shortage of medicines for people with Parkinson's disease. Of the 300,000 patients, 70% need daily drugs from Teva and Hoffmann-La Roche, but they are no longer sold. Prices for them are regulated by the state, and in the current conditions, manufacturers and suppliers have decided that the supply is "economically inexpedient." And domestic generics sin with side effects : hallucinations, vomiting, loss of balance, paralysis.

Sometimes people simply have no other choice but to look for options for the supply of medicines from abroad. When ordering a new shirt from a foreign online store, you run the maximum risk that it will not fit well. When buying medicines, we are talking about life and health, and sometimes about preserving the freedom of a person.

You can, but be very careful

People in the post-Soviet space are no strangers to extracting foreign goods, despite all the restrictions. Everyone has heard about the fartsov, even those who have not come across them due to their age. In the USSR, there were several well-established channels of unofficial "import". These are Soviet citizens themselves who travel abroad (diplomats, sailors, artists, scientists, etc.), and foreign tourists who discovered Moscow and Leningrad after the VI World Festival of Youth and Students in 1957.

In the 21st century, delivery services have made a qualitative breakthrough, but in the case of medicines, sometimes you have to resort to the old way of transporting drugs with a fellow traveler or courier. The main thing in buying medicines in foreign pharmacies is to follow the precautionary rules and be prepared for unpleasant surprises.

Safety

In itself, the purchase of medicines in foreign pharmacies is not a matter of jurisdiction. And you can pay for drugs in the same way as any other product abroad. Virtual cards and cryptocurrencies will help solve this problem. How exactly to pay for and receive goods in Russia, read in the previous material of Novye Izvestia .

Next, you should decide whether the necessary drug can be legally imported into Russia. Anastasia Myrsina , a lawyer at the Healthcare and Technology Practice at BGP Litigation, notes that careless importation of medicines can even lead to criminal charges:

- It is necessary to be very careful when importing such categories of drugs as containing potent and (or) toxic substances and containing psychotropic and narcotic substances. It is necessary to have a document confirming the appointment of such drugs to the patient (in particular, a doctor's prescription). Otherwise, it may be fraught with criminal liability. With all this, the form of guilt (intent or negligence) depends on the specific article under which the person will be attracted. Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of June 1, 2021 N 853 establishes a closed list of legal entities that have the right to import medicines into the Russian Federation. These include drug wholesalers. Other persons, in particular retail trade and delivery organizations, are therefore not entitled to import drugs into the territory of the Russian Federation.

Recipe questions . Be sure to find out in advance whether a prescription is needed to purchase the medicine in the country where you place the order. Everyone has different rules. If you order in Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden or Estonia, then they can accept a scan of the form from your doctor in Russia. Only the prescription must contain the dosage and duration of the course, and the name, surname and trade name of the drug must be written in English. Other countries may refuse to sell a prescription drug.

What to do with customs. Without fear, you can send to Russia drugs registered in Russia that do not contain prohibited substances, and in an amount suitable only for personal use (you should not even fill a whole bag with activated carbon - you will have to prove to the customs service why you personally need so much). Therefore, before ordering, you should check with the State Register of Medicines (GRLS). It is much easier and more convenient to do this on the ConsultantPlus portal than on the website of the Ministry of Health .

Medical lawyer Irina Gritsenko points out that the legal importation of drugs that are not in the State Drug Administration to Russia is also possible, but is associated with a lot of bureaucratic difficulties. Ascorbic acid or aspirin from Bayer will still pass the border, and problems may arise with more complex drugs:

- The patient ordered the medicine, he is on the territory of the Russian Federation. Import will be carried out by the company that supplies. If they import it officially as a legal entity, then the customs asks for the necessary documents and certificates. Then this, it turns out, falls under Russian law, because during customs clearance they will provide all the necessary documents for the drug. And if they import the drug in such a way that they send some so-called “runner”, a person who will carry this drug in his purse, then criminal liability is already possible for him. Because we have a procedure when drugs are imported from abroad, which may not have a certificate, but this should always be a protocol of a consultation of doctors who will clearly determine which drug is needed and explain why there is no analogue in the Russian Federation - maybe some allergic reactions in the patient or something else. Therefore, it is not so easy to introduce a drug that is not in official circulation here.

How to check a foreign pharmacy

Irina Gritsenko also explains that ordering drugs abroad (provided that you are sure that the drug does not contain substances prohibited for import) carries other significant risks. There is a chance to get something completely different from what you expect:

- When ordering drugs, no one is responsible for whether this drug will actually be provided, that it has certification in accordance with the requirements of the Russian Federation, what will be there at all, for example, instructions in Russian, and so on. There are no rules for working with foreign sites, it's just a site, it's just an information resource, we don't understand what is behind it, what is the legal responsibility. Medicines may not come from the countries indicated on the site, but from where there is no clear regulation of production, it is not known what will be in these drugs at all, perhaps there will only be a placebo effect from the active substance.

Therefore, before ordering, you should not be too lazy and check the legality of the pharmacy.

First, in the EU, all registered online pharmacies must have a logo in the form of a white cross on a striped green background on their page.

Secondly, for complete certainty, it is worth checking the registration of a pharmacy on the website of the European Medical Agency . If you are ordering drugs from the United States, then the website addresses of legal online pharmacies must end with .pharmacy. If you see the usual .com domain, then you should avoid such a place.

There is no turning back

But it should be borne in mind that if the medicine for some reason did not fit, or turned out to be of poor quality, then it will not be possible to return it. You can't sell through ads either. This is also prohibited by law - adds Anastasia Myrsina :

- The sale of drugs on the territory of the Russian Federation is allowed only to persons who have a license for pharmaceutical activities. Licensing requirements are quite strict, currently pharmacies and some large online sellers (for example, Ozon) have them. For the same reason, individuals who do not have a license cannot resell drugs from their hands or using marketplaces - this is also considered a sale and is a violation of administrative and criminal law.

There are more than enough problems and risks when ordering medicines from other countries. But otherwise, it remains either to take generics with a dangerous side effect, or to pray that we will start producing the necessary drugs in the shortest possible time. If such a prospect does not appeal, then it is worth stocking up on time, patience and a considerable amount of money to order medicines abroad.

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