According to data revealed recently, Russians have hurried to stock up on antidepressants, sleeping pills, and contraceptives, among other things, since the conflict in Ukraine began, with many purchasing a month’s worth of medicine in just two weeks.
Although official opinion polls show that the majority of Russians support President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, social media, interviews, and anecdotal data show that many Russians are concerned about the severity of the sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West in an attempt to force it to withdraw its forces.
Many global firms have indicated that they are stopping operations or leaving Russia, the rouble’s value versus the dollar has plummeted, and prices for many ordinary goods have skyrocketed since Putin started what he dubbed a “special operation” in Ukraine on February 24.
“I myself take L-thyroxine as I have issues with my thyroid gland so I’m taking it daily and I worry about it,” Valentina, a Moscow resident, said.
“That’s why I bought a supply of it for a couple of months in advance as I’m worried if I will be able to find it in pharmacies later. People are asking for it everywhere.”
According to sales statistics acquired by the analytical firm DSM Group for the daily Vedomosti newspaper on Thursday, Russians purchased 270.5 million medicinal goods in pharmacies for 98.6 billion roubles ($1.04 billion) from February 28 to March 13.
That was nearly similar to the sales figures for the entire month of January, when Russians spent 100 billion roubles on 288 million goods at pharmacies.
The most recent data, which did not name specific brands, revealed an increase in demand for foreign-produced drugs, as well as an increase in demand for Russian-made items.
It revealed a considerable increase in demand for antidepressants, sleeping medicines, insulin, cancer and heart drugs, hormones, and contraceptives in particular.
“It was fear,” Sergei Shulyak, general director of DSM Group, the company that gathered the data, told Reuters.
“The first fear was that everything could get more expensive and the second fear was that medicines they need won’t be available in some time. Those fears moved people. They stood in lines at pharmacies and bought everything.”
Shulyak, who described the situation as “hysteria,” said there was now a temporary shortage of some medicines, but he expected the situation to stabilise in time, with Russian manufacturers still able to produce generic drugs and many foreign producers continuing to supply Russia even if their products were now sold at a higher price.
However, he warned that as relations with the West deteriorated, some Russian drug companies were having difficulty obtaining the materials they required to manufacture their drugs.
Some Russians claimed to be unmoved by the uproar.
“There might be some (shortages) especially if the medicine is imported, but I think it will all come back because politics is politics, economics is economics,” said Vladimir, a Moscow resident. “They (the drug manufacturers) all need to sell, they all need to gain profit, so it’ll all be back.”
(Adapted from Reuters.com)