Quality is not Determined by Price
Belarusian pharmaceutical industry will have to go through some serious changes in coming years
Taking into consideration Belarusian policy on pharmaceutical production, which implies to come out at the international market and Belarusian market saturation, it is important to have a huge increase in new positions.
According to the Deputy Chairman of the Belbiopharm Trust Pyotr Mandrukevich, there are plans to develop and master the production of more than 200 new original and import-substituting items. Part of the investments will come from the state scientific-technical program; the rest will be paid by the factories themselves. State budget will also contribute some investments to the project. In years 2001–2005 for these purposes, state budged contributed 9.2 billion Belarusian rubles, and it is expected that in the next five years state budget investments into the pharmaceutical industry will reach 27 billion. Total expenditures on the pharmaceutical manufacture during this period will be around 40 billion Belarusian rubles (during the last five years, this amount sum was less than 11 billion).
Such vivid difference in funding can be explained by the tendency in the Belarusian pharmaceutical industry to put a strong emphasis on the import-substitute pharmaceuticals. This year, 40 new generics will be introduced by the Belbiopharm Trust. On the other hand, Belmedpreparaty Company will provide Belarusian market with 70 percent of the required quantity of the genetically engineered insulin, although Belarus had to import this amount previously.
— It is impossible to provide the whole country with domestic medicine, — said Deputy Director of the Research Department of the Belmedpreparaty Company Tatiana Trukhachova. — Even such countries as Switzerland and the USA, where pharmaceutical industry is highly developed, are able to occupy only 60 percent of their home pharmaceutical markets. However, our goal is to substitute imported items and to be less dependent on foreign medicines, because medicine import means depletion of foreign currency reserves and constant dependency on import and this can become a home security question. Why should we work on the development of the foreign pharmaceutical industry, if we can save money on purchasing and invest it in our own production?
Annual increase in the import substitution reaches almost 25 percent of the pharmaceuticals’ overall total. Domestic medicine (not only from the vital concernment list, but all Belarusian medications) will be offered to customers first of all.
The price for the import substitution program is approximately 700 thousand of the spared US dollars. However, according to Pyotr Mandrukevich, Belarusian consumers, without getting deep into this, have already chosen domestic medications for their quality and price values. Belarusian medicines are quite cheap — 1.5–5 times cheaper than similar foreign brands. For example, Glibenclamide (diabetical medicine), produced at the Minsk pharmaceutical factory is 1.5 times cheaper than Ukrainian analogue; Remantadine is 2.2 time cheaper than its Latvian analogue. On the average, the price for the domestic medicine is around $2, which means that Belarusian pharmaceuticals are able to meet competition not only in Belarus but in the neighboring countries as well. Certainly, this policy is not very profitable for our domestic producers, because by lowering prices they decrease their profits. However, it is important to understand that they are making a substantial contribution into the future of the Belarusian pharmaceutical industry.
— Besides that, we are constantly trying to improve medication supply conditions for the local market. We are considering the ways in which it can be saturated with Belarusian medicines, says Pyotr Mandrukevich. — There are objective reasons that prevent us from supplying medicines to the retail network on time and in necessary amounts. For example, we experience technical difficulties during manufacturing process or pharmaceutical raw materials supply delays (almost all of it is imported). We are trying to prevent this from happening, so that our pharmaceutical items are of high quality and always available. It is because of this, that Belarusian pharmaceutical products have the lowest defect rate among the pharmaceuticals on the Belarusian market — it does not exceed several hundredth of a percent.