The shortage of some types of medications, for example, a number of antibiotics, including children’s syrups, is indeed observed in the medication market in Armenia, Director General of Eskulap Pharmaceutical Company Gagik Grigoryan told NEWS.am Medicine.
According to him, the reason is that large international drug producing companies leave the Armenian market, as they are not interested in it for its small size.
As a result, there is a problem with the availability of medicines in Armenia. According to Gagik Grigoryan about 3,500-4,000 types of drugs are registered in Armenia at the moment, which you can easily check at pharm.am. And among them are many different analogues, that is, the same drug from different manufacturers.
Whereas in neighboring Georgia about 7,000 drugs are registered, and in Russia – 15,000. He recalled that during the emergency situation, during the covid pandemic and the 44-day war in Artsakh, the Armenian government allowed local import companies to import medicines that were not registered in Armenia, but were necessary for the country’s needs.
This permission was given until the end of 2022 and the companies have provided a sufficient supply of medicines, but sometime in the summer of 2022 they warned the Ministry of Health that in the current situation the deficit of some medicines is inevitable.
Minister of Healthcare Anahit Avanesyan had a meeting on this issue with the participation of representatives of pharmaceutical companies, during which the issue of registering medicines necessary for Armenia was also discussed. It was decided to prolong the possibility of registering drugs through national procedure until the end of 2023. The fact is that according to the agreement of EAEU, from 2023 medicines in Armenia should be registered under the EAEU procedure.
However, extending the registration period has not yet yielded the desired results: manufacturing companies continue to curtail their activities in Armenia and transfer their offices to Kazakhstan and Georgia.
At the same time, according to Gagik Grigoryan, there are about 1600 registered drugs in the EEU drug register today, 80% of which are registered in Russia, and they have to be recognized by other member countries. But only 12-15 of them are currently registered in Armenia, when the whole process must be completed by 2026.
The head of the pharmaceutical company believes that Armenia should automatically recognize the EEU registration. He added that after a meeting at the Ministry of Health, the Ministry decided to allow the import of unregistered drugs from six groups by February 28, 2023, which are designed to treat those patients whose care is taken by the state. They are psychotropic, antitumor, antiepileptic, anti-Parkinson’s drugs and antidotes. But patients in Armenia also need other very important medications, which at the moment are not available in the country. In order to solve this problem, Gagik Grigoryan offers to automatically recognize the registration of medicines in developed countries or, say, in the European Union, where there are strict national and supranational regulations, and you can not doubt the quality and safety of drugs registered in these countries.
He recalled that before the adoption of the new “Law on Medicines”, when medicines were imported to Armenia, they had to undergo not only documentary but also laboratory examination. Under the new law, laboratory expertise is no longer conducted, and the responsibility for the quality and safety of imported medicines automatically falls on the importers. “How can I bring unregistered low-quality drugs, of unknown origin, when there is a criminal penalty for this?” said the head of the company, adding that when in the past three years it was allowed to import unregistered drugs, not a single case of importing low-quality or counterfeit drugs was detected.
The head of the pharmaceutical company suggests the government analyze the situation on the market, assess what unregistered but vital medicines Armenia needs and temporarily allow their import again, until a final decision on their registration in Armenia is found.
Under the current circumstances, according to him, increasing penalties for selling unregistered drugs will only worsen the situation with the availability of medicines. Gagik Grigoryan suggested enquiring how much tax was paid by importers of medicines while the Ministry of Health was allowed to import unregistered drugs, and how much is paid after their import was banned.