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Belarusian Medicines Are In Favour Among Elderly People

Belarusian Medicines Are In Favour Among Elderly People
By Elena Spasyuk
Belorusskie Novosty
Sociological centre ‘Zerkalo-Info’ held a public opinion poll in Minsk and Minsk region to find out preferences for imported and domestic medicines.
The poll results reported by Radio ‘Ratsia’ say that people aged 50 or more prefer domestic medicines. Those with uncompleted or general education were more often positive about Belarusian medicines. Belarusians aged 18-50 with higher education would normally support imported medicines.
30% of respondents said that they cannot see any difference between medicines produced in Belarus and abroad. 15% said that domestic medicines are better; 29% said the opposite; 26% were not able to compare the quality of domestic medicines with foreign brands.
Belarusian Health Minister Vasily Zharko stands somewhere in the middle. “As a Minister I would say that the quality of our medicines is comparable to those from abroad, and sometimes the quality is the same. Domestic and foreign medicines get registered and clinically tested; then we issue quality certificates,” said the Minister during the on-line conference on the site of the Belarusian TV and Radio Company.
At the same time, there are only 8% of original medicines both domestic and foreign in Belarusian market. For instance in Russia the percentage of original medicines is 14%; in the EU states – about 35%. All other items are modifications of the original brand.
Chairman of Belbiopharm Mikhail Cherepok said that Belarus produces only 37% of the items from the Republican List of the Essential Medicines. The list has 489 entries, so we cannot do without importing the rest.
Developing an original medicine takes millions of dollars and many years. However, it is not true that Belarus does not have any original medical inventions. For instance anti-tumour medication developed by Belmedpreparat is a huge success. Ten years ago there were not any domestic medicines used in curing tumours, but now there are ten types of them. The most well known is Fotonol – registered and successfully used in cancer treatment here and in Russia.
Vice Prime Minister Alexander Kosinets also reassured that domestic medicines are just as good as foreign as he spoke to the Chamber of Representatives.
The Vice Prime Minister said that Belarus just like other countries, buys medical substances from India or China. He pointed out that the common opinion about better-quality foreign medicines is “some sort of psychological barrier”.
Still, there are some sensitive issues in this area. For instance, insulin for treating diabetes. Patients can hardly say which sort of medication is better. But there is another problem – Belarus does not produce any easy-to-use insulin cartridges (the so-called ‘syringe-pens’). Natalia Malashko, the Director of the Medication Supplies Department at the Ministry of Health, noted that using insulin in cartridges is much easier. It helps avoid injection pain and possible infections. It is particularly advisable for children, pregnant women, and the blind. This type of insulin comes from abroad only.
Not long ago the discussion about medicines acquired some ethical traits. The Ministry of Health is concerned about Belarusian doctors being “recruited” by pharmaceutical companies. Medical workers in their turn say that they are forced to use domestic medicines to treat their patients.
Whatever the case, everything will become clear in 2010. The Ministry of Health said that all pharmaceutical companies in the country (22 of them today) are to undergo the GMP attestation which will enable them to export their products. So far the GMP certificates have been given to one production line at Belmedpreparaty, two production units at the Borisov Pharmaceutical Factory, and Minsintercaps that produces hard gelatine capsules.
Belarus is also to have 700 domestic medical brand names (500 today) before 2010. One of the aims of the National Medical Security Program is to cover a half of the pharmaceutical market with domestic medicines. This program is expected to require more than 200 million dollars.

15 Февраля, 2008
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