According to Kyivpost newspaper, Ukraine’s pharmaceutical market is afflicted with monopolies and oligopolies, leading to lack of choice and high prices.
Ukrainian health sector legislative base is still weak, and health reforms only just starting to kick in, experts say better regulation and a systematic approach to reform are still needed to nurse the sector back to health. New programs for the procurement of drugs abroad and state reimbursements for the costs of palliative care have already brought some improvement.
“In Ukraine, the pharmaceutical market has some problems – in particular, it has a small range of effective medicines: in Germany, there are 45,000 medicines, and we have 13,000,” Acting Minister of Health Ulana Suprun said. “So first there’s little choice and competition, and second there’s overpricing: some of our drugs are 20 times more expensive than in (other) European countries.”
At least 50 companies in Ukraine produce drugs, with the top five in terms of sales being Farmak, Arterium, Darnytsa, Kyiv Vitamin Plant and Yuria-Pharm. Because of Ukraine’s complex and bureaucratic drug-registration system, there are few low-cost generic drugs available – most are either produced domestically or imported.
Local producers produce plenty of remedies for colds and flu, but not medicines that require research and development, like cancer drugs or vaccines. In other cases, a Ukrainian company buys pills from an international brand in bulk, repacks them and sells them under its own brand. The international brand then competes with its own drug, but in local packaging.
The health reform bill aims to inject a dose of competition into the market through measures like its reimbursement program. The program allows patients with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and bronchial asthma to obtain prescription drugs for free or for a small payment in participating pharmacies – some 6,180 pharmacies have signed up for the program already.
The program has also increased the availability of vaccines: UNICEF in 2017 managed to procure six out of the eight vaccines it required, but that were not previously registered in Ukraine.