A new draft policy produced by Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry envisages that, by 2020, Russian-made pharmaceuticals will account for at least 50% of the home market in terms of volume, and that no less than 80% of these products will be patent-protected innovations.

The draft policy, which aims to both boost the domestic industry’s innovative capacity and secure a reliable supply of high-quality, effective medicines for Russian patients, has been drawn up after close discussions with representatives of business and research organisations and other government departments, particularly the Ministry of Health and Social Development, said Industry and Trade Ministry spokesman Sergei Razumov. It is now being circulated widely for discussion and comment, he added.

Russia’s pharmaceuticals market is currently worth around $6 billion and is one of the world’s fast-growing, with volume set to continue increasing around 10%-12% annually over the next decade, according to forecasts. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has recently proposed a subsidy scheme for prescription drugs aimed at boosting the local industry and securing effective, affordable treatments for Russian patients.

Announcing his proposals, Mr Putin also said that since January 2005, when the Provision of Supplemental Medicines (DLO) programme was launched, drugs worth 164 billion rubles have been purchased, enabling “dozens of thousands of our fellow-countrymen to return to normal life.” However, a new patients’ group, the Movement Against Cancer which is campaigning for increased access to effective medicines, claims that some cancer patients are not entitled to free prescription drugs, and that even those who are frequently cannot obtain their medicines because of delays in payments by the authorities to the drugs’ suppliers.

Around 2.5 million people in Russia have cancer, with more than 450,00 new cases diagnosed and 300,000 deaths from the disease each year, prompting a number of the country’s leading oncologists to warn recently that the country’s health care system, as it stands, cannot cope with this “epidemic.”