In Russia, the Health Ministry suspended the licences of 321 companies manufacturing or trading in counterfeit medicines last year, and a further 200 may also lose their licences following ongoing investigations, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.
It is recognised that Russia's legislation guarding against the counterfeiting of drugs contains a number of loopholes, but this is set to change. The Health Ministry has drafted legislation to amend and supplement current drug laws to include the introduction of punitive action against firms that manufacture and trade in fake drugs.
RIA Novosti cites the country's chief pharmaceuticals inspector, Vladimir Shipkov, as stating that sales of counterfeit drugs account for around $400 million of the annual $4.83 billion (€3.82bn) pharmaceuticals market in Russia. The domestic market grew by 19 per cent last year.
The federal Interior Ministry is consulting with Russia's pharmaceutical inspection authorities, with the aim of joining forces to track down manufacturers of counterfeit medicines on the domestic market, he added.
Meanwhile, a report on the Interfax news service notes that domestic chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers increased their production 1.8 per cent to $1.1 billion at factory-gate prices in 2003. In contrast, Russia imported pharmaceuticals worth $2.1 billion last year at customs prices, an increase of 35 per cent.