Russia's proposed list of "vital and essential" drugs for 2012 includes a number of innovative cancer treatments.

Among the 536 products on the draft list, which has been published by the Ministry of Health and Social Development, are 24 new therapeutic agents which appear for the first time. 94 products on the list, or 16.7% of the total, are manufactured by Russian firms, 35.9% are produced by overseas drugmakers and 47.4% are produced by both domestic and foreign firms.

Among the innovative oncology drugs which appear on the 2012 draft list are: Novartis' Afinitor (everolimus), Eli Lilly's Alimta (pemetrexed), GlaxoSmithKline's Atriance (nelarabine), Merck Serono's Erbitux (cetuximab), AstraZeneca's Iressa (gefitinib), Bayer's Nexavar (sorafenib), Celgene's Revlimid (lenalidomide), Bristol-Myers Squibb's Sprycel (dasatinib), Pfizer's Sutent (sunitinib) and Novartis' Tasigna (nilotinib).

Other innovative products on the list include Novartis' age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treatment Lucentis (ranibizumab) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Orencia (abatacept) for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Analysts at IHS Global Insight comment that the expansion of the list to include so many innovative drugs, particularly in oncology, is testament to the Russian authorities' increasing willingness to invest more in reimbursement of medicines, including those which are innovative and expensive, although they add that coverage for these treatments continues to be somewhat limited across the Russian Federation.

It is also "no coincidence," they add, that the increasing numbers of companies whose products are appearing on the essential drugs list are choosing to establish production and/or development operations in Russia.

"Russia's authorities are very much in favour of international pharmaceutical companies establishing manufacturing bases in the country, and those that do certain gain a competitive advantage," says IHS Global Insight.

The firm also notes that proposed new legislation on healthcare provision currently making its way through Russia's Duma (parliament) includes establishment of a legal recognition for orphan diseases and the drugs used to treat them, with provisions for reimbursement of treatments for orphan diseases, at both regional and federal level.

The bill, which reportedly defines orphan diseases as those with no more than 10 patients out of a 100,000 population, also includes proposals for a system for the licensing and procurement of orphan drug products.