Maria Sharapova Meldonium
Mildronate (Meldonium) medication is pictured in the pharmacy in Saulkrasti, Latvia, March 9, 2016. Reuters/Ints Kalnins

A survey has revealed that post Maria Sharapova Meldonium scandal, sales of the doping drug have doubled in Russia. The nation’s popular tennis star admitted to taking the drug for health reasons.

More than 78,300 boxes of the doping drug Meldonium were sold by Russian pharmaceutical outlets between March 7 and March 13. It is around 220 percent more than the sales figure of the week preceding it. DSM group conducted the survey and tracked the pharmaceutical sector and came up with these figures.

It was on March 7, Sharapova tested positive with the Soviet-era drug at the Australian Open. Since then, sales have evidently taken off. Sharapova admitted taking the drug for health reasons and also added that she was unaware of the fact the drug has been banned by authorities. She has denied all allegations that she took the drug to enhance her performance.

“The doping scandal was a very good advertising boost for meldonium, enabling it to be introduced to a much broader public,” said DSM Group's chief executive, Sergei Shulyak.

People in Russia got the feeling that if a superstar like Sharapova used it, then the drug must be extremely effective. Patients are also stockpiling the medicine due to the fear that Meldonium prices are set to soar due to its increasing demand, writes The ABC.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) included Meldonium in the “prohibited” category from the start of the year, moving it from “monitored” category, after it found evidence of its use by athletes for the purpose of performance enhancement.

On March 11, WADA revealed that since Jan. 1, it has found 99 cases of Meldonium use.

The doping drug Meldonium dates back to 1970s Russia and is now manufactured in Latvia. It is used to treat ischaemia, a health problem where blood cannot reach certain parts of the body. Meldonium enhances blood flow, which can possibly improve recovery time and endurance after exercise.