Boris Mendelevich: ‘Prices for medication shouldn’t be rising for at least six months’
How the ruble’s collapse will influence the price for medication — the opinion of the expert parliamentarian
The last days of the spring break turned out anxious for many Russians. Even those who didn’t purchase foreign currencies and didn’t speculate in the market were cautious about the information about a fall in oil prices, which led to a decrease in the ruble rate. In his op-ed column for Realnoe Vremya’s readers, the State Duma’s deputy, psychiatrist Boris Mendelevich shared his opinion about how ups and downs in the currency market would influence Russian health care.
“There shouldn’t be problems in government procurement due to the fall in the ruble rate”
Don’t panic. This is the first thing that comes to your mind when learning such news. One should try to understand what should be done today so that even unexpected tomorrow will become as clear as a sunny spring day. This is why, to start with, we will talk about prices for medication. Most auctions for medication supplies to Russia have already ended, there shouldn’t be problems in government procurement in 2020 due to the fall in the ruble rate. Another question is retail commerce. In my opinion, prices in pharmacies can go up only in case the currency grows or stays at the new level for long, for instance, for six months or a year. The prices can rise further because purchases will be made according to new price tags (if the dollar rate stays at today’s level or increases).
What to do?
I consider that now the Ministry of Health, first of all, should control prices for medication — active ingredients of medication. Of course, it would be perfect to have our own factories to manufacture substances, then the country could even make money (a high dollar rate would cheapen our goods for buyers in euro, dollar and another currency). Now we have what we have, and it is important to prevent problems with drug supply.
Secondly, if pharmaceutical companies all of a sudden don’t want to work on terms of the Ministry of Health, we should quickly launch the mechanism of forced licensing, which enables Russian enterprises to manufacture analogues of essential medication on their own in case a foreign manufacturer refuses to supply it.
Thirdly, we should work on medication labelling. Medicines must be compulsorily labelled from 1 July in Russia — it is a special code on the package of the medication. A control system can track the movement of any medication from the manufacturer to the buyer according to this code, that’s to say, to make sure that medication did get to a specific person. It is important to monitor and quickly analyse data.
What about medical services in general?
In my opinion, prices shouldn’t rise for main medical services. However, laboratory diagnostic, dentistry in particular are the areas in which mainly imported materials are used, and, indeed, prices here can go up. On the other hand, Russian manufacturers should actively join the work at that moment and provide a quality and competitive product.
Special attention should also be paid to the maintenance of foreign medical equipment: if the price of repair works is calculated immediately in rubles, consumables, as a rule, are calculated in a currency. And here one should include various fluctuations of the rate in advance to provide uninterrupted operation.
Yes, and the situation with the coronavirus is another proof. I am sure that Realnoe Vremya’s readers are already aware of mask prices, not to mention ads of numerous amulets from a disease.
The same can happen nowadays too. However, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service should keep an eye on all prices and react to growth quickly if needed.
Is there any advantage?
The high currency rate makes treatment in Russian attractive. This is why it is very important to develop health tourism: our prices will become more interesting for foreign tourists. In this respect, our unique resorts should join the work and take the greatest advantage of this situation.
Medical education will become attractive to foreigners too. Here it is important that universities attract students to the work as well. New tourists who arrive to receive treatment, education can improve other sectors too. Only conditions need to be created for them.
Of course, it is a thankless task to make forecasts, moreover, for currency rates. I think that this should be left to specialists. But the only thing I am convinced of is that one shouldn’t get into a panic. Most importantly, everybody should act quickly and professionally in the sphere he or she is a specialist in.