Attempts to ban drug advertising in Russia and Ukraine

20 Sep 2013

Aerius bg

Although the idea of introducing a ban on the advertising of OTC drugs and dietary supplements in the mass media has recently been widely discussed in Russia and Ukraine, medical is in unlikely than such a ban will be introduced in the near feature.

This is the opinion of PMR, recipe a research and consulting company/  They have recently produced a report entitled ?OTC market in CIS countries 2013. Russia, cheap Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Comparative analysis and development forecasts for 2013-2015?.


10-year discussion on advertising ban in Russia

The subject of a ban on the advertising of OTC drugs has been discussed in Russia since 2003, but its supporters have always had a strong group of opponents. The first legislative bill was put forward in 2009 but was rejected in 2010. In 2012 the State Duma proposed that the advertising of OTC drugs should be limited to the specialist medical press and medical events. However, in March 2013 the government opposed the introduction of such requirements. In May 2013 Veronika Skvortsova, the Health Minister, once again announced that the advertising of medicines would be banned. The Federal Antimonopoly Service opposes a ban. ?In addition, representatives of the government explained that a ban on public OTC drug advertising would deprive consumers of the right to information on medicines and to places at which they could be bought, and would also contribute to the development of hidden forms and methods of pharmaceutical advertising. The ban on the advertising of OTC medicines is also controversial because it would cause media companies to make substantial losses. The pharmaceutical industry is a key advertiser for the press, TV and radio? says Agnieszka Skonieczna, PMR Senior Pharmaceutical Market Analyst and the author of the report.

The main aim of the Health Ministry, through the introduction of a ban on OTC advertising, is to discourage self-medication. However, in the opinion of PMR, advertising is not the most important factor for patients when choosing OTC products ? the recommendations of a doctor or a pharmacist are of greater importance.


Dietary supplements cannot be advertised as drugs

There are also plans to introduce stricter rules on the advertising of dietary supplements in Russia. The latest such idea (not the first attempt) was proposed by the State Duma in May 2012. According to the Duma, the advertising of dietary supplements should be restricted to pharmaceutical and medical publications, along with medical trade shows and conferences.

In July 2013, the Russian president signed an amendment to the law on advertising which specified regulations pertaining to the advertising of dietary supplements. This stipulates that every advertisement should warn that dietary supplements are not medicines. This information had previously been required only on the packaging. Rules were also introduced as to the length of the notice and the required advertising space in different types of media. Such notice must last no less than three seconds in radio advertisements and at least five seconds in the case of TV and video advertisements. In the latter it should also be given no less than 7% of the space (10% in case of other forms of advertisement). According to the Duma?s healthcare committee, the tighter regulations should help the market develop in a more civilised way. What is important is that responsibility will lie not only with the advertising company but also media that air the advertisement.


List of OTC drugs which cannot be advertised adopted in Ukraine

Also in Ukraine, In 2011 there was a great deal of discussion in Ukraine about the proposed Act No. N7007, which was passed on its first reading in parliament in December 2010. The act suggested a ban on the advertising of all medicines (including dietary supplements) in the mass media.

?So far such regulations have not been adopted, but in December 2012 the list of OTC drugs which cannot be advertised took effect. The latest update was implemented at the beginning of August 2013. It now contains 300 items, 27 fewer than the previous list? says Agnieszka Skonieczna.

In July 2012 the general criteria for drugs which cannot be advertised in Ukraine also took effect. The list of OTC drugs outside the realm of advertising is approved on the basis of these criteria:

- the drug is available only on prescription

- the drug contains narcotic substances, psychotropic components or precursors

- the use of the drug can cause addiction, indicated in the instructions for medical use

- the drug is used exclusively for the treatment of women during pregnancy and lactation

- the drug is used exclusively to treat children under 12

- the drug is used for the treatment of the following diseases:

- tuberculosis

- sexually transmitted infections

- particularly dangerous infectious diseases


- cancer and other malignant diseases

- chronic insomnia

- diabetes

- obesity (including drugs used for weight loss)

- impotence (erectile dysfunction).

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