This story initially appeared in East-West Digital News, an international news resource covering the Russian innovation scene.
Earlier this month, a new legislation on online pharmacy activity came into force, following several years of discussions. The Covid-19 pandemic, which is severely hitting Russia, accelerated the adoption of the law, which allows to sell online non-prescription medication – as well as prescription drugs in times of epidemic or in a state of emergency.
Online selling of drugs, psychotropic substances and alcohol-containing drugs with a volume fraction of ethanol higher than 25% is still prohibited.
Russian Post did not wait much after the legislation changed to position itself on this new market. The postal operator considers launching an online platform for selling medications. displaying pharmacy products from pharmaceutical firms and other online sellers. Russian Post will provide itself the required logistic support.
Pharmacy products could already be ordered online before the adoption of the new law. In 2018, for example, Mail.Ru Group, launched an online pharmacy aggregator, allowing users to find and order any drug or medical product at the best price and receive it quickly at the nearest pharmacy.
Some other players tended to sell drugs online in less law-abiding ways.
Sergey Shulyak, a pharmaceutical industry expert, believes online orders accounted for 5% of Russia’s total medicine retail market last year. This share could grow to 40% in the next five to seven years as a consequence of the new legislation.
According to a recent poll by Ipsos, more than half (52.4%) of Russians want to be able to purchase medical products online.
The Russian e-commerce market, which exceeded $20 billion last year (domestic sales of physical goods only), is growing fast. It could double or triple in the next five years, according to a recent industry report by East-West Digital News.