According to a report by the Russian register of approvals for clinical trials, pharmaceutical companies in Russia have significantly increased their clinical trial activities as foreign drug firms have stopped conducting trials in the country due to sanctions. This data shows a notable rise in the number of clinical trials compared to the previous year.
One example is R-Pharm, a Russian pharmaceutical multinational, which has obtained 22 approvals for clinical studies since the beginning of this year. This is a significant increase compared to the seven permits the company received during the first nine months of 2022. Similarly, Geropharm saw a fivefold year-on-year increase in the number of approvals obtained in 2023, from four to twenty. Pharmstandard also experienced more than double the number of permits granted, reaching eleven.
Generium, a Russian biotechnology company, recorded eight clinical trials this year, compared to the six it conducted in 2022. Another leading pharmaceutical firm in Russia, Akrikhin, had no approvals during the first three quarters of 2022 but has obtained six permits so far in 2023.
The increase in research activity in the Russian pharma sector can be attributed to the suspension of new clinical trials by international pharmaceutical majors such as Pfizer, Bayer, Gilead, Novartis, MSD, Sanofi, and AbbVie. These companies halted their activities in response to Western sanctions against Moscow.
For instance, German drugmaker Bayer has ceased all “non-essential” business in Russia, including advertising, promotional activities, investment projects, and new business development. However, Bayer continues to supply health and agriculture products to both Russia and Belarus. MSD had also stopped supplying vaccines for chickenpox, measles, rubella, and mumps to Russia. Additionally, it discontinued the sale of Raltegravir, a medicine used to reduce the chances of HIV-infected individuals developing AIDS. MSD stated that it would focus on supplying vital vaccines that have no alternatives in Russia. Johnson & Johnson, a US pharmaceutical giant, suspended deliveries of contact lenses to Russia earlier this year.
Amid these developments, Moscow’s envoy to New Delhi, Denis Alipov, has suggested that Indian pharmaceutical companies could find new business opportunities in Russia, as European and US corporations have suspended their operations in the country. Furthermore, media reports revealed that Swiss pharma exports to Russia reached a record high between March 2022 and February 2023, with medicine exports increasing from 1.4 billion Swiss francs to approximately 2 billion, accounting for about one-third of Switzerland’s total exports to Russia.
This surge in clinical trials conducted by Russian pharmaceutical companies showcases the country’s efforts to maintain medical research and development despite the absence of foreign drug firms. The increase in research activity reflects Russia’s commitment to ensuring the availability of innovative medicines and treatments for its population.
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