Retailers were not allowed to sell drugs

After leaving the government of the Russian Federation, Igor Shuvalov, a lobbyist for allowing retail chains to sell over-the-counter drugs, his successor Tatyana Golikova withdrew this project from the Cabinet's agenda. That's why the project of Sergei Chemezov and his partner Alexander Vinokurov was torpedoed.
After the change of the federal government work on a resonant bill that allows the sale of OTC drugs in grocery retail is stopped. The corresponding decision is associated with the resignation of First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who was the initiator of the document, and the return to the government of ex-Minister of Health Tatyana Golikova.

The federal authorities have stopped drafting a bill authorizing the sale of OTC medicines in food retail chains. On June 22, the Department of Social Development of the Government of the Russian Federation sent a letter (a copy of it to Kommersant) to a number of ministries and departments, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, that Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova was reported on the issue of creating a normative act. After that, this issue was removed from the control of the government, it follows from the letter. The representative of Ms. Golikova Sofia Malyavina explained to "Kommersant" that during the public discussion the bill received many negative reviews and the Ministry of Industry and Trade approached the government with the proposal to stop work on the document. The Ministry of Industry and Trade did not respond to a request from Kommersant. The Ministry of Health could not promptly provide a comment.

The bill, which caused a strong reaction in the pharmaceutical industry, was developed in late 2017 by the Ministry of Industry and Trade on behalf of former First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. The necessity of its adoption was argued by the fact that the sale of OTC medicines in stores will increase their level of availability. In addition, the Ministry of Industry and Trade believed that within the existing monopoly of pharmaceutical and medical organizations that have the exclusive right to sell medicines, the sale of OTC drugs in stores will stimulate the development of competition and lead to lower prices for certain categories of medicines.

The original version of the document allowed retailers to sell over-the-counter drugs with the appropriate license. Get it could be on a legal entity regardless of the number of points. The regulatory act aroused dissatisfaction on the part of a number of agencies, as well as indignation of representatives of pharmacy organizations, who must file a license for each point.

The owners of the networks said that the adoption of the law would result in the closure of pharmacies located in close proximity to grocery stores, due to the loss of a significant part of the proceeds. So, in the largest Russian network "Rigla" (1.86 thousand points), they feared that it would have to close almost half of the pharmacies.

Later, the Ministry of Industry and Trade finalized the bill, proposing to give trade organizations the right to sell over-the-counter drugs in general without a license. But even this version did not find support in the authorities. The Ministry of Health noted that the license guarantees the presence in the stores of specialists who can give professional explanations when dispensing medicines, the ministry is sure. In addition, the authorities are taking measures to expand the availability of drugs in remote areas, so the development of a normative act is not required at all, the ministry said. In the Federal Antimonopoly Service, such conditions were considered discriminatory for pharmacy chains. And the Ministry of Economy feared that the adoption of the bill in this form would lead to the growth of counterfeit products, and proposed to introduce requirements for the area of ​​stores, as well as the average number of staff.

Despite this, on April 28, the Ministry of Industry and Trade issued a bill in the form proposed for public discussions, which ended on May 14. During this time, only 34 votes in favor of the document were received on the federal portal of normative legal acts, and against - 5,800.

The players of the pharmaceutical market interviewed by Kommersant attributed the cancellation of the drafting of the bill directly to the departure from the government of Igor Shuvalov, who promoted this idea since 2014. At the end of May, Mr. Shuvalov was appointed head of Vnesheconombank. In parallel, the former Minister of Health and Social Development Tatyana Golikova returned to the government: she was appointed deputy prime minister for the social sphere. Representatives of the pharmaceutical industry hope that more power will not come back to the issue of selling medicines in grocery retail.

The general director of the network "Neofarm" Evgeny Nifantiev believes that the new government managed to assess objectively, without departmental lobbying, the scale of possible negative consequences of the adoption of the law. According to the director of external relations of the Association of Retailers Roman Chernigovtsev, the sale of OTC drugs would not have a significant share in the turnover of the average grocery store.