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    RUSSIA: HEALTH MINISTRY CATCHES 321 COMPANIES RED-HANDED WITH BAD MEDICINES

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 20, RIA NOVOSTI - The federal Health Ministry suspended licenses of 321 pharmaceutical companies last year for manufacture of, and trade in counterfeit medicines, says Vladimir Shipkov, chief ministerial pharmaceutical inspector.

    An approximate two hundred companies have every chance to be unlicensed after the inspection applied to the judiciary, he told Novosti.

    There is a bad legal gap in Russia, whose laws do not mention medicine counterfeiting, so the dangerous underhand business does not imply criminal and even administrative liabilities, our interviewee pointed out.

    The ministry has drafted a bill to amend and supplement the federal law, On Medicinal Substances. It intends to offer the bill to the Cabinet next week. The draft envisages the Administrative and Criminal codes amended to introduce punishments for counterfeiting medicines and respective commerce.

    Counterfeit medicines account for 6 to 8 per cent of entire offers in the global pharmaceutical market, say statistics of the World Health Organisation, or WHO.

    The Russian medicine market is evaluated an annual 4.5 to 5 billion US dollars, so counterfeit medicines make an impressive $400 million, Mr. Shipkov concludes from the WHO figures.

    The federal Interior Ministry is consulting the pharmaceutical inspection, and the two have joined hands to track down manufacturers of bad medicines spotted in the domestic market, added Vladimir Shipkov.

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