Under amendments to advertising laws, food supplement adverts must carry disclaimers that they are not medicines. These must be at least three seconds for radio and five seconds for TV and video.
The amendments were signed off by Russian president Vladimir Putin in the summer after a decree was introduced the Russian federal parliament, the Duma, in May.
Commenting on the amendment, analyst PMR said: “This information had previously been required only on the packaging.”
“According to the Duma’s healthcare committee, the tighter regulations should help the market develop in a more civilised way. What is important is that responsibility will lie not only with the advertising company but also media that air the advertisement.”
The change comes as the government attempts to restrict people self-medicating, with curbs also increasing on over the counter (OTC) medicines.
According to PMR, Veronika Skvortsova, the Russian health minister, recently called for all OTC marketing to be banned, even as Federal Antimonopoly Service opposes such a ban.
Government officials have warned that consumers have a right to such information and that the predominantly pharmaceutical companies that manufacture OTCs are major revenue sources for press, TV and radio companies and other media.
Agnieszka Skonieczna, PMR senior pharmaceutical market analyst and author of a report focused on Russia and other eastern European nations, said a ban would, “contribute to the development of hidden forms and methods of pharmaceutical advertising”.
Many probiotic and high-dose vitamin products, for example, are considered OTC drugs in Russia.
PMR commented that recommendations of a doctor or a pharmacist are of greater importance than advertising to typical Russian consumers.
Russia is proposing allowing such advertising only in the medical trade press and at trade shows and conferences.
PMR data put the OTC-supplements market in Russia, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan at €7.4bn in 2011. It is expected to hit €10bn in 2014 – a 10%+ annual average growth rate across the three countries.
Multinational food supplement players in Russia include Nutrilite, Herbalife, Solgar, Nu Skin and Sunrider.
Ukraine to ban all supplement-medicine marketing?
Meanwhile the Ukraine is considering a complete ban on food supplements, OTCs and medicines to the public.
“So far such regulations have not been adopted, but in December 2012 the list of OTC drugs which cannot be advertised took effect. The latest update was implemented at the beginning of August 2013. It now contains 300 items, 27 fewer than the previous list,” said Skonieczna.
Since July, 2012, marketing has been banned for products making links to:
- sexually transmitted infections
- particularly dangerous infectious diseases
- cancer and other malignant diseases
- chronic insomnia
- obesity-weight loss
- erectile dysfunction