Black market of drugs: “It is impossible to determine their origin”

A “ban” from Roskomnadzor for the sale of drugs for COVID-19

Black market of drugs: “It is impossible to determine their origin”
Photo: Margarita Golovatenko

One must never buy pills from coronavirus from “private owners” through ad sites, Realnoe Vremya experts warn. There's no guarantee that you buy exactly the drug that is indicated on the package. And no one can guarantee that the medicine was stored in proper conditions. However, there are quite a lot of similar offers on Avito, and fresh ones are appearing every day. Moreover, sellers indicate prices that are significantly lower than pharmacy prices, sometimes two or three times, without requiring a prescription from a doctor. Our correspondent looked into the situation.

It's easy to buy a drug without a prescription

Today, it is not uncommon to find posts selling coronavirus medications on ad sites. In particular, on Avito, you can count two dozen such offers from individuals who are ready to sell Coronavir for prices that are sometimes significantly lower than pharmacy ones. For example, a pack of 50 tablets from these sellers can be purchased in the range from 2,000 to 6,000 rubles. While in the pharmacy networks, they cost from 6,500 rubles.

Given that this drug, like other “anti-coronavirus” tablets, is distributed exclusively through pharmacies, as Realnoe Vremya wrote earlier, it seems somewhat strange why “sole proprietors” are engaged in the sale of these drugs.

“We bought two packages for 6,700 rubles for our own money. Just the second package didn't have any use: the hospital returned," one of the sellers explains to Realnoe Vremya.

“And you can buy pills without a prescription?" our correspondent asked under the guise of a buyer.

“Yes, please," the reply was.

The interviewee added that she had already been treated and recovered from Covid-19.

Other “sole proprietors”, to whom we got through, reported about the same thing: they bought several packs of “Coronavir”, used some of them for themselves or their relatives, and are selling the rest. Of course, no one needs any document from a doctor. Even if the medicine is located in Moscow and the buyer is in Kazan, this will not be a problem. Many people are ready to send the product by mail or through courier services.

A significant proportion of such offers come from the Russian capital. No such ads were found in Tatarstan at the time of preparation of the material.

It's risky to take it

However, Deputy Prime Minister of Tatarstan Leyla Fazleeva, who heads the operational headquarters for countering coronavirus, in an interview with the online newspaper, warned that she does not recommend responding to such ads.

More categorical was the Federal Service for Surveillance in Healthcare.

“The territorial body of Roszdravnadzor in the Republic of Tatarstan calls to abandon the purchase of medicines from private individuals, as there is a high risk of getting a substandard or counterfeit drug, head of the territorial body of Roszdravnadzor in Tatarstan Lyubov Shaykhutdinova commented to Realnoe Vremya.

“Substandard” means, in particular, non-compliance with the storage conditions of medicines — temperature and light conditions, etc.

“We recommend buying medicines in registered pharmacies, because in such places, the storage conditions and expiration dates established by the manufacturer must be observed. Besides, thanks to the implemented system for monitoring the movement of medicines, it is possible to confirm the legality of the origin of the drug," Shaykhutdinova added.

Besides, in this case, no one will guarantee customers that they will not encounter scammers. There are more than enough ways to illegally withdraw money from the population through ad services.

Blockages and fines

Yelena Nevolina, the executive director of the Pharmacy Guild, agrees with Fazleeva and Shaykhutdinova. In her opinion, one must never buy medicines from private sellers.

“It's impossible to determine their origin: where and from whom they were bought," she explains. “In Russia, as in a number of other countries, state regulation of pharmaceutical activities consists in licensing the object at the address. First of all, they look at how appropriate the premises are to ensure the storage of these drugs in proper conditions. Besides, they keep track of where the drug comes from.

Nevolina also said that information about the introduction of drugs into civil circulation must appear on the Roszdravnadzor portal. If this drug is not on the agency's website, it means that it does not have the right to apply (and sell) on the territory of the Russian Federation.

“Individuals who sell drugs on the Avito website can be held liable as persons who illegally engage in licensed activities and make a profit from this. For this, it is threatened with administrative punishment in the form of a fine," the head of the Pharmacy Guild warned.

The websites that sell medicinal products (including remotely) and retail sales of which are restricted or prohibited by law are identified by Roszdavnadzor and its regional divisions. This data is transmitted to Roskomnadzor for blocking.

To date, at the initiative of Roszdavnadzor of the Republic of Tatarstan, 57 sites have already been blocked. In total, the Tatarstan department sent information about 95 such resources to the agency. For the remaining 38 sites, “the work continues”.

By Timur Rakhmatullin
Tatarstan