St Petersburg University is accepting applications for a master’s degree programme ‘Medical and Pharmaceutical Law’. It is aimed at training students in the theoretical and practical aspects of law in healthcare.

Norms and standards for health service delivery have existed since the very beginning of medicine in ancient times. For instance, King Hammurabi of Babylon had already incorporated in the Codex Hammurabi (circa 1790 BC) rules and regulations governing the practice of medicine. However, it was only at the end of the 20th century that medical and pharmacy law became separate branches of law. Today, medical and pharmacy lawyers are faced with the tasks of: preventing medical errors, mistakes and malpractice and disciplining those responsible; protecting patient rights; ensuring the quality of medical expertise; regulating standards of medical support; and prescription drug turnover.

Detailed information about the admissions process can be found here.

The main feature of the programme is the focus on two specialist areas of legal practice. The graduates are qualified equally to work as both medical and pharmacy lawyers. Thus, they can be flexible about their career path. They can focus on: the legal issues of delivery of health care services to the population; or the legal and regulatory issues of prescription drug turnover and related issues of patent protection, including protection against fraud. Additionally, students study the issues of forensic medical expertise and the particularities of criminal prosecution for medical malpractice that caused harm, injury, or death to a patient.

Master’s students have the opportunity to learn from leading professors of St Petersburg University, who successfully combine legal scholarship and practice. The supervisor of the programme is Professor Igor Akulin, who is: a Doctor of Medical Sciences; the President-Chairman of the Board of the St Petersburg Association of Medical Law; the Chairman of the Arbitration Panel for medical insurance and health care disputes at the Saint-Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and a member of the Advisory Board for Human Rights Ombudsman for St Petersburg.

We have developed a programme that will enable a broader range of legal issues to be studied. Thus, we will talk about health care practitioners’ responsibility and the doctor–patient relationship. We will discuss the biomedical aspects of medical practice and the provision of prescribed medicines. Most importantly, the programme places particular emphasis on the analysis of the role of the healthcare system in improving the public health and demographic situation in Russia. Both practical and theoretical courses are offered. The curriculum is designed so that the students study judicial practice. They become familiar with the documents on monitoring of compliance with public health legislation in the Russian Federation, and acquire skills of applying the legislation.

The programme supervisor Igor Akulin, Doctor of Medical Sciences, President-Chairman of the Board of the St Petersburg Association of Medical Law

Employers have been actively involved in the programme design. Their opinions were taken into consideration regarding the graduates’ skills and qualifications required to perform their professional tasks. Professionals who have attained such a high level of expertise are earnestly sought after by: national and international pharmaceutical companies; healthcare services providers; public health policy-makers and planners; insurance companies; and courts of law. Another interesting option for a career path may be implementation of the Russian Federation National digital healthcare programme. Indeed, Masters of Law are employed by: the Sogaz Insurance Group; JSC Gazprom Neft; the Medical Support Department of Russian Railways; as well as various legal consultancy firms, such as Rosmedkonsalting LLC. Also, Masters of Law are in high demand by: the Prosecutor’s Office and the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation; the Health Committee of St Petersburg; Ernst & Young; and ZAO Biocad.

Much attention is paid to the international component. Master’s students can take internships in foreign universities and study the public health laws not only in Russia, but also in other countries. The programme has established successful partnerships with leading universities in Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Belarus, Vietnam and China.