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Health Ministry Finds No Traces of Corruption

Reacting to scathing criticism of a new HIV treatment program, Russia’s deputy health minister said his agency "will keep on encouraging companies which set up production in Russia". The blueprint is rumored to be drafted to suit certain pharmaceutical companies at the expense of HIV-positive patients. A group of Duma deputies has asked the head of the presidential administration to examine the issue.

Deputy Health Minister Vladimir Starodubov dismissed accusations of derailing the state program on the treatment of HIV-related diseases. Physicians believe that after low-cost medicines are replaced with expensive ones under the new state standard for HIV treatment, the drugs will be in shortage. They also claim that the standard was set before the tender to purchase anti-HIV drugs to suit certain companies – Janssen-Cilag and Russian Makiz-Farma. Healthcare officials have admitted that the standard is not tailored for all HIV-positive, but only those who stay at hospitals.

"There cannot be two different standards," Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Federal AIDS Center, told Kommersant. "An HIV-positive person may stay at hospital or be at home, so there must be only one standard." On another note, more expensive drugs will cut the number of potential patients under the state program by 25 percent, says Mr. Pokrovsky.

Deputy Health Minister Starodubov made a statement on Thursday, responding to accusations of the ministry’s vested interests in choosing companies to supply the drugs. Asked about support for Janssen-Cilag and its Russian partner Makiz-Farma, the official said that "the ministry will keep on encouraging companies which set up production in Russia".

The State Duma’s anti-corruption commission is convinced that the standard "has been written to suit a particular company and a particular winner of the tender". The deputies have requested the Russian president’s administration and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to look into the matter closer.


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