Online sales of prescription drugs will continue
The government, on the advice of Vladimir Putin, has ceased to “run its horns against the wall” and finally agreed on a bill to conduct an experiment on remote sales of prescription drugs. It will be launched in March 2023 in the three most prepared regions – Moscow, the Moscow region and the Belgorod region. Online, with an electronic prescription, it will be possible to buy antibiotics and other medicines from the list approved by the Ministry of Health. Absentee dispensing of psychotropic, immunobiological, potent and a number of other drugs is still prohibited.
Photo: Lilia Sharlovskaya
Russian government officials fought for months over a bill to allow the online sale of prescription drugs, until Vladimir Putin intervened. On July 18, he demanded that the Cabinet of Ministers end the protracted discussion and submit the document to the State Duma in two weeks. “Why, then, rest your horns against the wall?” the President admonished the disputants. Having received a “magic pendel”, the officials quickly settled the differences. Moreover, in the apparatus dispute between the Ministry of Economic Development, which proposed using the instrument of experimental legal regimes for the sale of prescription drugs, and the social bloc led by Tatyana Golikova, who insisted that “digital sandboxes” were not needed here, the latter won. Instead of the Ministry of Economics, the Ministry of Health became responsible for the experiment. And the rejection of special legal regimes means that marketplaces will not be able to sell prescription drugs – their credibility was undermined when counterfeit goods were recently discovered on one of the popular sites.
Mikhail Mishustin at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers said that the main thing during the experiment is “to ensure strict compliance with all safety requirements for such a sale of drugs.” He separately emphasized that all the nuances discussed at the meeting with Putin were agreed upon – the visa of the main legal department of the president (which was not on the bill of the Ministry of Economics. – “MK”) was received. According to the head of the Ministry of Health Mikhail Murashko, the experiment will be carried out through amendments to the law “On the circulation of medicines.” Moscow, the Moscow region and the Belgorod region were chosen as pilot regions, since an electronic prescription form has already been introduced there. “The period of the experiment is set for a period of three years – from March 2023,” the minister specified.
The online sale of prescription drugs will be carried out on the websites of pharmacies, and the availability of an electronic prescription will be confirmed through a special service connected to the Unified Identification and Authentication System (ESIA). Only after passing the verification procedure, the buyer will be able to put the medicine prescribed by the doctor in the basket and proceed to payment. “When a prescription drug is delivered, the patient’s identity will be checked against the data specified in the prescription,” the explanatory note to the bill says. This means that another person, even a relative, will not be given the medicine ordered online.
Experts point out that the digital format eliminates the possibility of forgery. Whereas conventional paper recipes are easy to draw by hand. And many pharmacies, as inspections show, do not ask them at all, because they are interested in sales volumes. Online trading in this sense will be more transparent, since all data (including the name of the pharmacist) is recorded in the system. However, not all prescription drugs are planned to be sold remotely. The list of allowed ones will be separately formed and approved by the Ministry of Health. It will definitely not contain narcotic, psychotropic and potent substances, immunobiological preparations (here, apparently, vaccines are meant) and radiopharmaceuticals (used in the treatment of oncology), as well as drugs with an alcohol content of more than 25%, manufactured by pharmacies themselves or requiring special storage conditions (for example, temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius).
Mikhail Mishustin stressed that the remote purchase format is much more convenient offline. “And for patients with limited mobility or patients with chronic diseases who do not always find it easy to leave the house, it will make treatment more accessible,” the prime minister said. According to statistics, over 50% of the entire range of pharmacies fall to the share of prescription pharmacies. When a person is sick, it is really convenient for him to buy both prescription and over-the-counter drugs (they are sold online since 2020) in one place, preferably without leaving home, so as not to infect others. It should be noted that Russia in this case does not reinvent the wheel. The remote sale of medicines is allowed in many countries of the world, and often there you can take a picture and attach the usual “cidulka” from the doctor to the order.