Russia's government is set to limit state purchasing of pharmaceuticals from overseas, following the country's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), according to local reports.

Russia become the WTO's 156th member on August 18, 2012, its accession taking place after 18 years of negotiations.

Proposals to protect and boost the domestic drug industry which have recently been put forward by the Ministries of Economic Development and of Trade and Industry would prohibit state drug-buying tenders from being filled by overseas suppliers if two or more officially-recognised alternatives were being produced by domestic manufacturers.

Supplies for state tenders could still however be purchased from drugmakers in Belarus, says the report, which appeared in Russia's Vedomosti business daily.

Two years ago, Russia's President Vladimir Putin had pledged just under 130 billion rubles in federal funding for the development of the domestic pharmaceuticals and medical products sectors by 2020. He set a goal for the drug industry to be producing 90% of Russia's essential medicines by 2020, and for its exports to have increased eightfold over the period.

More recently, Pres Putin had stated that 90% of medicines which are deemed to be "strategically important" should be produced in the country by 2018.

However, foreign-made drugs currently account for around 85% of Russian state tenders for medicines, and in 2011 93% of the most expensive medicines purchased by the state were imports, Vedomosti reports. Moreover, imports account for 70% of medicines used in Russian hospitals, and the percentage is higher than that in other areas of the healthcare sector, it adds.

- The Russian pharmaceutical market represents about 3.6% of the European pharmaceutical industry. The domestic production sector is growing, having increased by 17.5% in 2009, and by 2014 it is expected to be worth $10.7 billion, according to a recent report from Research and Markets.