Some Russian hospitals are experiencing serious shortages of drugs used to treat COVID-19 and cannot restock because of panic buying, high demand and problems with a new labelling system, officials, distributors and doctors said, Reuters reported.
Russia, which has reported the world’s fifth-highest number of COVID-19 cases, is — like many other countries — struggling to cope with a second wave of the disease and the healthcare system outside Moscow is close to breaking point.
Doctors in over a dozen regions face big shortages of antibiotics, antiviral drugs and other medicines used to treat COVID-9, three local officials and three drugs vendors told Reuters.
“Head doctors call me every few minutes and beg for medicine. They have nothing to treat patients. And I have nothing for them to deliver,” the co-owner of a large pharmaceuticals distributor said, on condition of anonymity.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week he was aware there were problems. “We know that there is a shortage in certain regions, this is unacceptable. The government is making very vigorous efforts to prevent this,” he said.
The health ministry did not reply to a request for comment.
A doctor from the Bashkiria region in south-central Russia said a hospital in her town was short of antibiotics because of the large influx of patients. She declined to be identified.
With the number of COVID-19 cases recorded in Russia now above 2 million, social media feeds are full of requests to buy medicine.
“We don’t have water for injections, let alone antibiotics and antivirals,” an official from a Siberian town said on condition of anonymity.
Russian doctors use a specific program with specific drugs to treat COVID-19 patients. It includes the antibiotics Levofloxacin or Azithromycinum, and local antiviral drugs such as umifenovir, documents seen by Reuters show.
Those antibiotics and antiviral drugs are now running short, regional officials say.
“There is a huge shortage of COVID medicine,” said one senior regional official.
Only Moscow and some other wealthy regions have the financial and lobbying resources to tackle such shortages.
“The only cure is to pray,” said an official who works in a regional COVID-19 crisis center.