Russian tourists eye medicines during their vacation in Türkiye

Russian tourists eye medicines during their vacation in Türkiye

Nerdun Hacıoğlu - ISTANBUL
Russian tourists eye medicines during their vacation in Türkiye

A peculiar trend has come to light among Russian tourists holidaying in Türkiye of purchasing medicines such as painkillers and antidepressants and taking them to their country upon their return as its comparatively cheaper.

As Russians started to search for pharmacies around them after settling in their hotels where they come for vacation, new pharmacies serving Russians were opened near five-star hotels in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions.

The operators of pharmacies in the southern province of Antalya’s and the Aegean province of Muğla’s resort towns set eye on pharmacists who know the Turkish equivalents of Russian drugs.

Though Russian tourists have been buying medicines in the past while they holiday in Turkiye, the demand increased amid the sanctions announced by the West following the Ukraine invasion, which severely hit its 1pharmaceutical industry.

Russian citizens coming to Türkiye mostly buy painkillers, antidepressants and drugs for diabetes, as most of them are sold much more expensive in Russia.

Some Russian tourists who want to make their holidays cheaper announce on social media that they are going to Türkiye and contact those who need medicine, hoping to cover some of their expenses with the orders they would receive.

Stating that essential drugs are either unavailable in Russia or are priced too high due to Western sanctions, Russian media claimed that Russian customs officers ignore drugs in tourists’ suitcases.

This trend started to be called “pharma-shopping” in the coastal districts as there was a significant increase in the number of people who bring medicines to Russia, especially in June and July, according to the Russian media.

Russians claimed the second spot in the list of foreign tourists visiting Türkiye in January-July at 2.2 million, up from 1.55 million Russian visitors a year ago.

Antalya, a favorite place especially among Russians, hosted more than 524,000 Russians from Aug. 1 to Aug. 17.