Scientific and technological progress does not stand still, in the world Internet trade is developing at a furious pace. The pharmaceutical market is waiting for big changes, on the one hand — these are risks, on the other — a benefits. The bill allowing the remote sale of medicines may be adopted this fall in the second reading of the State Duma. However, today there is no unequivocal opinion — are patients ready to buy medicines online? Who will deliver the orders and how? Is it possible to purchase low-quality or expired goods? Representatives of business, pharmacy retail and experts expressed their point of view during the discussion: "Internet — drug trade: to be or not to be."
The Director General of the Association of Russian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Viсtor Dmitriev voiced the position of the business on such an urgent and difficult issue: “The Internet is the main way to distribute counterfeit products. You should not rush into this undertaking, there must be a certain phasing, both temporary and structural. It is necessary to spell out the rules clearly of who can do that and what responsibility will be. It is necessary to look at the regions, try what is selling and what is not, allowing first to work in this segment to licensed registered points that are controlled and audited by regulators. It is extremely important to find a middle ground here. Otherwise, we’ll release such a genie that will poison the people, who already are not very healthy. ”
To date, the remote sale of drugs in Russia is prohibited. Patients suffer from the actions of the so-called “gray pharmacies”. Recently, at least two high-profile cases are known. One is a “clafilinist” from Chistye Prudy in Moscow. A man easily acquired on the Internet potent psychotropic drugs for the making of his cocktail. His actions affected people. The second no less high-profile case — under the cover of an online sports nutrition store, counterfeit was sold, drugs were prepackaged and packaged in a makeshift way. The organizers of the underground production received real criminal terms. And there are many such examples. Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing of Russian Federation (Rospotrebnadzor) constantly conducts inspections and identifies violations. The problem exists not only in our country. In Europe and America, where distance trading is officially permitted, a flood of substandard drugs poured through the Internet.
According to Nelly Ignatieva, Executive Director of the Russian Association of Pharmacy Networks (RAPN): “We must work out the mechanism and its control to the smallest detail. All studies conducted at the international level confirm the presence of a large number of fake drugs on the Internet. And the worst thing is that children die from the actions of such illegal and semi-legal enterprises. ”
Officially in Russia via the Internet you can only reserve a medicine, and pick it up only on your own in a pharmacy. According to statistics, about 4-5% of the total market now goes through online orders, the average check for drug reservations on the Internet is about 4 times higher than in an offline pharmacy. Medical equipment, expensive goods are ordered. At the end of 2018, the popularity of drug reservations on the Internet increased by 72% compared to 2017. This means that people are trying to save by comparing the same product at several places. Are they ready to pay for delivery? And who will bring them the order: just a courier or a pharmacist? Participants of the conference proposed introducing a new specialty: “Walking Pharmacist” and equipping hem/her with a mobile drop out scanner, due to the approaching All-Russian labeling.
Deputies of the State Duma suggest that the legalization of online commerce will contribute to the availability of medicines for the population. Perhaps the prices of individual drugs will be lower by 30%.
Experts are sure that it is necessary to start online sales of over-the-counter and prescription drugs according to electronic prescriptions in Moscow and St. Petersburg. And narcotic, alcohol-containing, psychotropic and antipsychotic drugs can only be sold in stationary licensed pharmacies.
Today, up to 50% of counterfeit products are sold in web worldwide according to the World Health Organization. The activities of online trading points in Russia are outside of the legal field. Such organizations, according to federal legislation, do not have the right to sell drugs (No. 61-FL “On the circulation of medicines” dated April 12, 2010, Order of the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation No. 553n “On approval of the types of pharmacy organizations” dated July 27, 2010).
It is allowed to carry out retail trade in medicines only with a specialized license. In addition, trading outside the established trading places is not allowed, it is prescribed in the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 55 “On the approval of the Rules for the sale of certain types of goods” dated January 19, 1998 for violation is provided for administrative and criminal liability.
Russian President Vladimir Putin supports the idea of the online sale of OTC drugs, and in the future, prescription drugs. In his opinion — "this is where we need to move." The head of state believes that in order to avoid falsification, it is necessary to create an electronic system for the exchange of information between pharmacies and medical institutions.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are “FOR” the idea of legalizing online trading. “The more it is sold, the more profitable it is for the manufacturer. But if issues of image, quality and safety are touched upon, if counterfeit gets under our brand name on the Internet, then this will not be good for us and we will begin to oppose, ”said Victor Dmitriev.
According to the head of the ARPM, the issue of the Internet — drug trade should be returned only after 2020, after the drug labeling starts working in Russia within the framework of the Unified National Digital Labeling System.
And only if practice shows that counterfeit and other illegal drugs and medicines will begin to get identified using this system and it will be impossible to sell them.
In general, the professional community is confident: despite all the risks, there are benefits. Internet commerce will create convenience for the busy mobile part of society. But time will tell it to be or not to be.