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Panicked Russians are reportedly stocking up on important medications — including anti-depressants, sleeping pills and birth control — due to concerns that crippling sanctions imposed during the Russia-Ukraine war could cause shortages.
Fears of a medication shortage could be well-founded as Western firms exit Russia in droves following the Kremlin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. One month after it began, the war is already sparking concerns of shortages of food and other necessities.
Russians bought 270.5 million medicinal items from pharmacies between Feb. 28 and March 13 for 98.6 billion rubles, or the equivalent of roughly $1.04 billion, according to data from analytics firm DSM Group originally provided to Russian newspaper Vedomosti, according to Reuters.
The amount of medication purchased during that two-week period was nearly equal to the amount Russians bought in the entire month of January — when the country’s citizens bought 288 million medicinal items from pharmacies for 100 billion rubles.
The spike in demand applied to medications manufactured both in Russia and abroad. In-demand medications also included insulin, cancer and heart medications and hormone treatments.
One Moscow resident named Valentina expressed concern that she’ll eventually have trouble getting L-thyroxine, a medication taken daily to treat a thyroid gland issue.
“That’s why I bought a supply of it for a couple of months in advance as I’m worried if I will be able to find it in pharmacies later. People are asking for it everywhere,” the Moscow resident told Reuters.
Sergei Shulyak, general director of DSM Group, told Reuters that “fear” was the primary cause of the buying frenzy.
“The first fear was that everything could get more expensive and the second fear was that medicines they need won’t be available in some time. Those fears moved people. They stood in lines at pharmacies and bought everything,” Shulyak said.
Fears of a medicine shortage are just one sign of the mounting economic pressure campaign against Russia. International sanctions have touched nearly every aspect of the Russian economy, causing the ruble to crash and a weeks-long shutdown of trading on the country’s main stock exchange.
On Friday, Russian healthcare agency warned that medicine shortages were occurring due to “artificially” high demand that has prevented suppliers from replenishing their stockpiles.
With Post wires