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Hype over alcohol-containing drugs in Russia may push demand up — expert

The expert said the root-cause of mass poisoning with fake alcoholic drinks in the Irkutsk region lied in the addictive drinking habits of the population

MOSCOW, December 27. /TASS/. Agitation around the alcohol-containing drugs on the background of recent mass poisoning with fake alcohol in Russia’s East-Siberian Irkutsk region may push up the demand for these pharmaceutical in drugstores, Nelli Ignatyeva, the Executive Director of the Association of Drugstore Networks (RAAS) told TASS.

"Mass media are spreading the information today that speaks of an inevitable tightening of over-the-counter sales of alcohol-containing pharmaceuticals and it will unavoidably push the demand for this produce up," Ignatyeva said.

She said the root-cause of mass poisoning with fake alcoholic drinks in the Irkutsk region lay in the addictive drinking habits of the population. "It’s important to resolve the problem of alcohol addiction of the mass consumers instead of prohibiting (alcohol-containing) drugs," she said.

According to the RAAS date, the share of alcohol-containing pharmaceuticals sold in Russian drugstores does not exceed 1% of the total over-the-counter, while the share of alcoholic tinctures and potions stands at a mere 0.26%.

While the overall demand for tinctures and potions is following the general declining tendency today, some drugstore chains are reporting a sporadic surge of demand for the sedative drug Valocordin.

"There are cases of sporadic surging but there’s no evidence of a large-scale rise (in demand)," Ignatyeva said when TASS asked if she could confirm a growth of sales of Valocordin and other over-the-counter sedatives of the same type.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin said earlier on Tuesday Valocordin and other alcohol-containing drugs might be moved to the category of prescription products as of the second quarter of 2017.

Government officials began to speak about the forthcoming tightening of the rules for sales of this drugs after an avalanche of reports from the Irkutsk region on poisoning with a concentrated feed labeled as ‘Hawthorn’. Hawthorn tincture has traditionally been used in Russian healthcare for many decades as a supplementary medicine in combined therapies of various vascular conditions.

Alexander Khloponin said somewhat later, however, the government did not plan to take a decision on making Valocordin available exclusively by prescription. He indicated the cabinet did not set a task for itself to complicate the access to widely popular medicines for the people.