Western drugmakers and medical device companies warn that Economic sanctions imposed on Russia can hinder their efforts to maintain an uninterrupted supply of medical products to the country.
Sanctions levied by the United States, Britain, Europe and Canada against Russia do not apply to medicine and medical equipment, and the industry has a responsibility under international humanitarian law to continue supplying these products, industry trade groups, policy experts and company officials said.
However, the removal of seven Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system, as well as decisions by major shipping companies to suspend service to the country, could hinder the delivery of medical supplies as well.
The EU supplied Russia with 6.5 billion euros ($7.23 billion) of pharmaceutical products in 2020, about 8.4% of the region’s total exports to Russia, according to Eurostat data. It sent about 1.6 billion euros of medical equipment to the country in the 12 months ended September 2021, according to MedTech Europe.
U.S. government data shows that in 2021, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment represented about 8% of all U.S. goods exported to Russia. It sent $355 million worth of medicines and $157 million worth of medical equipment to the country.
Top shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk on Wednesday warned that shipments to Russia, including medical supplies, risk being damaged or spoiled due to significant delays at ports and customs.
Drugmakers including Switzerland’s Novartis, Denmark’s Novo Nordisk and Lundbeck , Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline and U.S.-based Eli Lilly said they are working to ensure patients have continued access to their medicines.
Novo Nordisk, the world’s largest maker of diabetes medicines, said it would do “all we can to maintain supply in Ukraine and Russia” but it anticipates sanctions will make that more difficult. An emailed statement said:
The supply of medicines may be indirectly affected by sanctions in other areas, and we will do whatever we can to ensure the citizens of Russia receive their life-saving medication.