Russia's healthcare reform bill, which has just been ratified, "contains many important measures relating to the pharmaceutical industry".

That is the view of IHS Global Insight analyst Brendan Melck who has issued a note on the legislation. He notes that some of the bill's pharma-related measures "are surrounded by considerable uncertainty", such as provisions related to orphan drugs, and those relating to the regulation of the relations between reps and healthcare professionals, as well as promotional activities and conflicts of interest.

In terms of orphan drugs, there was considerable debate prior to the bill's passing concerning potential pitfalls, "including the possibility that regions would simply not use the allocated budget for the correct purpose—ie the reimbursement of orphan drugs", Mr Melck noted. However, he pointed out the provision for medicines not included on Russia's list of vital and essential drugs (ZHNVLP) to be reimbursed in specific cases, such as intolerance to certain medicines, "is a positive development for both patients and the pharmaceutical industry, as it will mean that drugs not on the list will not be ostracised in the public healthcare system".

The analyst noted that the measures relating to the contact and communication between reps and healthcare staff and the promotion of pharmaceuticals to medical staff in general "are an expected stage in the development of a modern legislation of healthcare provision in Russia". Mr Melck believes this may be positive for the pharmaceutical industry, "providing a wider scope for promotional activities, although it remains to be seen how the regulations will be implemented and enforced in practice".