Pharmaceutical sales in Russia are expected to reach $24.29 billion this year from $22.22 billion in 2012, which is up 9.3% in US dollars and 11% in local currency terms, says new research.

Healthcare spending overall is expected to reach $130.40 billion from $118.16 billion last year, increasing 12.1% in local currency and 10.4% in US dollars, says the report, from Business Monitor International (BMI).

Russia’s pharmaceutical market continues to be one of the most attractive in the Emerging Europe region, primarily due to its sheer size, plus a growing economy and increasing government investment in healthcare, says BMI. Key drivers of market growth include programmes to fund medicines for specific segments and disease groups, and the pledged introduction of a universal medicines insurance system.

Also, Russia’s recent accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) should drive improvements in the country’s intellectual property (IP) environment, particularly in enforcement, which has been "conspicuously lacking," it adds.

The report also sees a short-term deteriorating macroeconomic picture which will serve to moderate growth, as consumer spending is expected to cool. However, over the longer term, Russia’s ageing population and significant disease burden will accelerate pharmaceutical spending, it says.

While the Russian pharmaceutical market represents a challenging operating environment at present, says the report, it also notes that the upcoming rollout of national drug insurance promises to sustain the rapid growth seen in the national market.

Official statements earlier this year indicated that the government is seeking to shift more of the healthcare funding burden away from the central budget and towards the contribution and insurance-based system. From 2014, higher-earning Russians, who contribute part of their salary to the compulsory health insurance programme (OMS), will have to pay more, with those earning over $16,670 annually being required to pay an additional 5.1% on any income above the threshold. Officials estimate that this will raise an extra $3.32 billion next year and $3.68 billion in 2015.

Also, state contributions to the State Insurance Fund are increasing, and could raise Fund revenues from $31.8 billion this year to $43.2 billion in 2015, as the amount of funding directed through the Ministry of Healthcare is reduced. BMI describes this move as logical “in terms of setting up a theoretically more means-tested and ring-fenced mechanism for costly medical programmes.”