Despite 'losing money' in Russia, Roche commits to continuing its supply of essential medicines — report
Roche joined a handful of pharma companies in promising to continue its supply of essential medicines to Russia — but that promise has come at a cost, CEO Severin Schwan revealed.
In an interview with the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, Schwan reaffirmed his commitment to providing life-saving cancer drugs to Russia, adding that there is an “international consensus that medicines are exempt from sanctions.”
However, since the medicines are being paid for in rubles, which have plunged to a record low, the chief executive admitted that the company is “losing money in Russia at the moment.”
“At Roche, we serve patients not markets,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “There is a good reason that life saving and essential medicines and certain diagnostics solutions are exempt from sanctions. As a company we are, and have always been, committed to supplying our patients with medicines and diagnostic tests in accordance with international humanitarian law.”
The news comes as pharma companies continue to pull out of Russia for a range of business activities. While Johnson & Johnson committed to supplying medicines and medical devices in the region, it has decided to suspend its supply of personal care products in Russia. While the pharma giant did not elaborate on which products it’s holding back, its consumer health unit houses common products like Listerine mouthwash and Neutrogena and Aveeno skincare products.
Beginning in early March, J&J will also suspend all advertising, enrollment in clinical trials, and “any additional investment” in Russia.
In that regard, the pharma giant is in good company — a handful of Big Pharmas, including Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Bristol Myers Squibb and Roche, have also put new site activation and new patient enrollment on hold in the country.
Bayer and Sanofi have also made further efforts to pull out of Russia, with Bayer announcing a couple weeks ago that it would stop all spending in Russia and Belarus not related to supplying essential products in health and agriculture. Similarly, Sanofi swore to halt all advertising and media activities in Russia, as well as any new spending not related to the supply of “our essential medicines and vaccines.”
“We remain steadfast in our support – inclusive of job security, transport, lodging and financial assistance – for our employees and their families in Ukraine,” J&J said in a news release on Tuesday.