Russians have been stocking up on antidepressants, sleeping pills, contraceptive pills, among other medications since the conflict in Ukraine began, found new data released on Thursday, according to Reuters.
People are buying a month’s worth of prescription drugs in just two weeks.
Official opinion surveys have found that most Russians support President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops into Ukraine, but social media, interviews, and anecdotal data have suggested that many Russians are distressed by the severity of the sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West.
The ruble’s value against the dollar has reduced dramatically as many foreign brands have suspended their operations or quit Russia. This has led to a rise in the prices of many products.
Valentina, a Moscow resident, said, “I myself take L-thyroxine as I have issues with my thyroid gland so I’m taking it daily and I worry about it. 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.”
Russians had bought more than 270 million medicinal items in pharmacies from February 28 until March 13 worth 98.6 billion rubles (over $1 billion). In particular, there has been a sharp increase in demand for antidepressants, sleeping pills, cancer drugs, heart drugs, insulin, hormones, and contraceptives.
Sergei Shulyak, General Director of DSM Group, told Reuters, “It was fear. 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.”
Calling the situation “hysteria, Shulyak said there was now a temporary shortage of some medication. However, he expects the situation to stabilize in time with Russian manufacturers able to produce generic drugs. He also expects that many foreign producers will continue to supply products even if they were now being sold at higher prices.
However, he warned that worsening ties with the West meant some Russian drugmakers were having problems sourcing ingredients they needed to make the products. Some people said they were unfazed by the panic.