British drugmaker GSK stops supplement, vitamin sales to Russia

(Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) said on Wednesday its consumer arm has stopped shipments of supplements and vitamins to Russia as a result of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and would prioritise the supply of over-the-counter medicines for basic needs.

The British drugmaker has also reiterated that it would keep supplying essential medicines and vaccines to Russia. GSK has however, halted clinical trials in the country and stopped as much direct involvement with Russia as possible. read more

As the West has tightened restrictions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, which the Kremlin calls “a special military operation”, healthcare companies have continued to supply medicines to Russia as these are excluded from sanctions on humanitarian grounds.

GSK has said that where it faces challenges in delivering medicines it would prioritise the supply of essentials, while its consumer business, in which Pfizer (PFE.N) has a 32% stake, would also reduce the supply of oral health products.

“We support global sanctions and will comply with them,” GSK said on its website. “We have taken a precautionary approach to stop, to the fullest extent possible, any direct involvement and support to the Russian government and military.”

Drugmakers typically have contracts with governments and their armed forces for public and internal supplies.

GSK is also in talks with the World Health Organization, the European Union and UNICEF for the supply of essential vaccines for children to Poland to support a fast growing refugee population there.

GSK, the world’s biggest vaccine maker by sales, produces several major childhood vaccines, including against polio.

A GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) logo is seen at the GSK research centre in Stevenage, Britain November 26, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

Last month, EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said the bloc was planning to buy and distribute vaccines against measles, polio, tuberculosis and COVID-19 to immunize Ukrainian children and other unvaccinated refugees.

More than 3.5 million people have fled the war in Ukraine, United Nations data showed in March. Neighbouring Poland was home to the biggest Ukrainian diaspora in the region even before the war.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Alexander Smith

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