Russia Natalia Viharjova from St. Petersburg became ill with MS, but “the medicine is not just given” – in the midst of Pula, patients are even prescribed foreign medicines that are not available

Russia has problems accessing several different drugs, from antibiotics to anticancer drugs. Natalia Viharjova from St. Petersburg fought for six months until she was given medicine for her MS.

The drug getting is a coincidence for a Russian patient.

In St. Petersburg Natalia Viharjova, 38, was found at the end of january multiple sclerosis, but at first dose okrelitsumabi medicine he received only in the summer for nearly half a year after the battle.

MS, or multiple sclerosis, is a disease of the central nervous system that impairs the ability to exercise and function. Ochelizumab slows the progression of the disease.

Natalia Viharjova okrelizumab.­

Viharjova, who works as an English teacher, sought medical attention early in the year after being constantly exhausted. He couldn’t stand to walk a couple of miles longer and fell over as he walked.

Getting the diagnosis was a relief, but it was followed by shock: One doctor after another refused to write him a prescription at any time under any excuse.

Viharjova hadn’t had much contact with doctors or needed medication in the past, so the situation was confusing.

“It turned out that this is a big problem for everyone with MS. The medicine is not just given, ”Viharjova says by phone about St. Petersburg.

In Russia there have been severe problems with access to medicines in the fall. According to Russian media, there has been a shortage in various parts of the country, at least antibiotics, anticancer drugs and caused by a coronavirus covid-19 disease medicines.

Disorders of access to medicines are a global and growing problem. For example, in Finland was reported a year ago in the summer of running out of several different birth control pills in pharmacies.

There are many reasons for the lack of availability. So is Russia.

During the coronavirus epidemic, drug consumption has increased. Hospitals have in some places been filled with coronavirus patients, so doctors have prescribed antibiotics for home treatment of covid-19 disease symptoms, among other things, and pharmacy stocks have run out.

In addition, citizens have begun to hoard medicines. According to the Telegram channel, which follows the pharmacy industry, antibiotics were bought in Russia in November “like buckwheat in March”. Demand for antibiotics has increased sixfold compared to last fall.

The supply of medicines to pharmacies has been hampered by the new certification system imposed by the state, which came into force in the summer. With the new certification of drug packaging, the state is working to curb counterfeit drugs, but its introduction has been slow.

St. Petersburg-based news site Fontanka said last week that a drugstore in St. Petersburg may have found the medicine the customer needed, but it could not be sold due to a lack of certification.

The pharmacies in the Ozerki chain are popular because of their low reputation. The pharmacy in the picture is in the center of St. Petersburg.­

Ruplan the sharp depreciation of the exchange rate has also messed up the pharmaceutical market. Russian manufacturers use foreign raw materials in many medicines, the price of which has risen.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers, on the other hand, do not receive a market price for their products because the Russian Ministry of Health maintains a list of “vital and essential medicines”. Their price is regulated to be low so that everyone can afford to buy them. The manufacture of listed drugs is not profitable.

At the end of October, thirty Russian charities and patients sent an open letter to the President and Prime Minister about the “catastrophic” situation of cancer patients.

According to organizations, problems with access to anticancer drugs threaten to lead to the deaths of thousands of people and a decline in Russian cancer treatment.

Russia’s state leadership has commented on drug shortages, reiterating that “the situation is unacceptable”. Last time I saw it said spokesman for the president Dmitry Peskov on Thursday.

Shortage of medicine the ultimate problem is money. Viharjova needs a foreign medicine for her MS, which costs 1.5 million rubles in Russia, or more than 16,000 euros a year. Viharjova should get it for free from the city, but he says city officials refuse to buy it.

“If they bought the medicine for all the patients in the city, it would be a decent amount,” Viharjova says.

When it proved impossible to obtain a prescription on his own, Viharjova contacted the Prosecutor’s Office, the Northwest Russia Regional Administration and the patients’ organization.

Eventually, he managed to get his medicine with the help of the prosecutor. After the first dose, the tiredness was relieved and the symptoms that impaired vision disappeared. The next dose to be taken at the beginning of next year is secured, as Viharjova already has a prescription for it.

Struggle medicines are familiar to patient organizations. Director of a patient association for patients with primary immunodeficiency disease Julia Zaharova says many of their patients are highly dependent on foreign pharmaceutical companies.

There was a shortage of immunoglobulin used to treat the disease even before the coronavirus epidemic, but the situation has become acute during the fall. Imports of foreign products have generally declined in recent years. Some of the products have disappeared from the market completely.

“State import policy and restrictions hamper access to medicine. Domestic products are not able to compete with similar foreign products, which is sad but a fact, ”Zaharova says by phone from St. Petersburg.

Julia Zaharova leads a patient association for people with primary immunodeficiency disease. He was photographed on the lake shore near his home in the Leningrad region on the outskirts of St. Petersburg last week.­

According to Zaharova, the state does not pay enough attention to the interests of patients. He points out that patients themselves do not require foreign medicines, but are prescribed to them by doctors working in government clinics.

According to Zaharova, the activity and social pressure of patient organizations have produced results in different parts of Russia. The policy of purchasing medicines has been changed, and officials have used the funds allocated in the budget for medicines.

“The patient has finally received the medicine prescribed to him, even though it may have lasted,” Zaharova says. “It just requires perseverance, knowledge and support.”

Viharjova does not accept that I had to spend so much time getting the drug. For him, it was humiliating. It’s as if there isn’t enough endurance in an unpleasant incurable disease.

“We pay taxes, we have chosen this state leadership. Why doesn’t it take care of us? ” Viharjova wonders. “Why isn’t there enough money to improve our own shrinking population?”

Russian Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov announced in the spring that funds were added to the federal budget for health care and coronavirus control, but he did not admit that health care’s share of the state budget was underfunded.

It is common in Russia to raise money for the treatment of sick relatives through various petitions on the Internet. According to Viharjova, their number has increased over the past five years.

“I would never have thought that I would be among those people who need care but do not get it from our country’s administration.”

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