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Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on regulatory policies

On March 2, 2010 Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting on measures to improve supervisory, regulatory and licensing policies, as well as government services in healthcare and social security.

 Prime Minister Putin's introductory remarks:

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,

Today we will address a very complex and multi-faceted issue. We must evaluate the effectiveness of government services and oversight in healthcare, public health inspections and protecting consumers.

We know that these issues are interconnected and have a huge impact on the lives of our citizens. This involves quality of care people get in hospitals, which must not merely extort money from patients. This also involves the availability of affordable and, more importantly, effective drugs, as well as the quality of food products and other everyday items offered in stores and markets.
The government has a huge responsibility in this area. We have a responsibility to every person to protect their health and ensure their safety.

We have a large network of government agencies and expert organisations to deal with these problems. But we have to admit that so far these bodies have not been very effective. While attempting to control everything, they often lose sight of actual risks.

A lack of transparency in registering medicines and food products and issuing health inspection certifications breeds corruption. It is possible to submit dubious and often fake documents to government agencies to receive almost any permit for any product or service for a kickback.

On the other hand, there are a multitude of barriers for law-abiding and motivated businesspeople. You could die waiting before you collect all necessary permits to manufacture special equipment for people with disabilities, for example. It is very hard and costly to open a clinic, install modern equipment, introduce new technology and use modern medicines. Yet we still have many Mickey Mouse companies that operate under the proud name of "medical centre".

It is also necessary to receive countless permits and even a mandatory certificate of government registration to market consumer goods. This applies to a wide range of goods, from nails to diamonds.

Corruption goes hand in hand with seemingly legal methods of getting money out of businesses. For example, various public health inspections earned government agencies some 10 billion roubles in 2008 alone.

We must deal with this swollen bureaucratic machine, eliminate barriers for businesses and protect people against low-quality goods and services.

Our first objective is to define what areas really need government oversight and come up with sound and justified mechanisms to protect people's rights.

All procedures must be significantly improved, with duplicate and redundant functions eliminated. We must dispense with the potential for conflicts of interest.

As in other areas, we must re-examine paid consulting, expert and registration services. Low-ranking agencies should not become profitable businesses. We must develop proper and justified government fees, as in the other areas we discussed previously.

Also, I believe that in most cases it is possible to shift from licensing to notifications, i.e. declarations of quality in accordance with legislation.

In addition, we must toughen the penal and administrative consequences for ignoring acting legislation and failing to meet commitments.

This primarily applies to healthcare. The government must monitor the situation and respond to any health care violations that result in patient injury or risk of death. Unfortunately, such cases are not uncommon.

We must abandon ineffective administrative mechanisms that neither protect anyone nor improve the quality of medical services. An effective system must be created in these measures' place to supervise and monitor medical institutions.

I would like to mention the draft law entitled On the Circulation of Drugs, which was passed after the first reading. This law is based on new principles. In particular, it suggests tougher requirements for the drug quality, effectiveness and safety, as well as more transparent and less bureaucratic rules for registration.

In addition, we must accelerate the adoption of the new technical regulations On the Safety of Medical Products, settling all pertinent issues regarding the production, maintenance and operation of medical equipment.

Now I would like to say a few words about oversight over the production and sales of food products and other consumer goods. This system obviously also has redundancies; you have to get separate sanitary health certifications for just about everything. On the face of it, these rules seem correct and justified, but very few of them are effective in practice.

We have already adopted enough technical regulations recently. There is also the law entitled On the Protection of Consumers' Rights. Public organisations also work to actively protect consumers' interests.

In my opinion, health inspections should only remain in place in industries where such inspections are a recognised international practice, for example in baby food production or the production of food with specific nutritional or medical purposes.

In the rest of cases, these inspections are unnecessary. Scrupulous businesspeople will be thus relived of double or even triple government inspections carried out in an attempt to shake them down.

In closing, I would like to stress that our goal is to foster the development of the consumer market and social services, making producers and service providers fully responsible for their actions. They must not hide behind irrelevant certificates that they bought. They must truly value their reputation and be interested in investing in quality improvement and safety.

Let us get down to work.


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