Since the Ukraine conflict began, Russians have hurried to buy antidepressants, sleeping medications, and contraceptives, according to data revealed on Thursday.
The harshness of the sanctions put on Moscow by the West to try and force it to remove its forces appears to have upset many Russians.
Since Putin announced “a special operation” in Ukraine on Feb. 24, many global brands have suspended or departed Russia, the rouble’s value versus the dollar has plummeted, and prices for many ordinary items have risen.
“I take L-thyroxine daily since I have thyroid difficulties,” Valentina, a Moscow resident, said.
“That’s why I bought it months in advance, fearing I wouldn’t be able to find it afterwards. It’s in high demand.”
From February 28 to March 13, Russians spent 98.6 billion roubles ($1.04 billion) on 270.5 million pharmaceutical items, according to DSM Group sales figures published in the daily Vedomosti.
It was almost as much as the entire month of January, when Russians spent 100 billion roubles on 288 million goods in pharmacies.
The newest data revealed an increase in demand for foreign-made medications, as well as for Russian-made items.
Antidepressants, sleeping medicines, insulin, cancer and heart drugs, hormones, and contraceptives were all in high demand.
“Fear,” said Sergei Shulyak, CEO of DSM Group, which collected the data.
“The first fear was that everything would become more expensive, and the second was that medicines would become scarce. Afraid? They waited in pharmacies for everything.”
A temporary scarcity of some medicines, Shulyak said, but he expected it to stabilize with Russian manufacturers still able to create generic drugs and many foreign companies continuing to supply Russia, even if their products were now marketed at a higher price.
However, he warned that deteriorating relations with the West meant some Russian pharma manufacturers were having trouble obtaining materials.
Some Russians were unmoved by the crisis.
“There may be some shortages, especially if medicine is imported, but I believe it will all be restored,” said Vladimir, a Moscow resident. “They (drug companies) all need to sell and make money, so it’ll all come back.”