Health companies say they have a duty to send medicine to Russia
- Some companies pulled out of Russia because of sanctions or opposition to war.
- Several companies in the health sector have denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- But some companies have said they have a moral obligation to continue supplying drugs to Russia.
Health care companies said they felt compelled to supply needed drugs to Russia, despite obstacles posed by sanctions and opposition to war, The Wall Street Journal reported.
A spokesperson for the drugs and cultures divisions of Bayer AG told the Journal that they still operate in Russia and that it would not be “ethically justifiable” to suspend deliveries for patients with cancer or cardiovascular disease.
Johnson & Johnson Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk told investors last week that if their products are not delivered to patients in need in Russia, “people will die or suffer serious consequences”, The Journal reported. .
In one declaration Johnson & Johnson last week said it is “committed to providing access to our critical medical products in the countries where we operate, consistent with applicable international sanctions.”
Drug distributor AmerisourceBergen said in a declaration on Wednesday that immediately stopping their participation in 60 clinical trials, “many of them for promising oncology therapies and new cell and gene therapy treatments”, and stopping the distribution of certain pharmaceuticals “would amount to an action punitive against the most vulnerable”.
“There are also larger social ramifications to consider. Making the decision to effectively end clinical trials that our teams support is a strike against medical innovations that can help patients around the world,” AmerisourceBergen said.
The company said it would stop doing new business, but would not stop ongoing operations, but limit them.
These statements from healthcare providers come at a time when many sectors have stopped doing business with Russia due to the sanctions. Medicine has not seen a shortage in Russia, according to The Journal, more than two weeks after the country invaded Ukraine, prompting the United States and others to impose sanctions on officials, companies and Russian oligarchs.
However, the outlet reported that while Western imports for healthcare are minimal in Russia, up to 85% of medicines manufactured in the country rely on imported materials.
Healthcare companies have already said Reuters that sanctions against other sectors could have an indirect impact on their ability to send medicines, which has not been subject to sanctions so far.
“In times of conflict, this right to uninterrupted access to essential medical supplies has often been violated,” Lawrence Gostin, a public health law expert at Georgetown University, told Reuters. “Governments imposing sanctions are also supposed to make an exception for medical supplies. Yet sanctions often disrupt medical services and supply chains.”
Novo Nordisk, the world’s largest manufacturer of
drugs, told Reuters, for example, that while it would do its best to deliver drugs to Russia and Ukraine, it could face problems due to a shortage of truck drivers.
Johnson & Johnson and Bayer AG did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.