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US Medicine Exports to Iran Drops By 50 Percent: Official Data


Source: Fars News Agency

Washington cut its pharmaceuticals exports to Tehran by half in 2012, according to US official data.

A pharmacy in Tehran

Exports of US pharmaceuticals and medicine to Iran were cut by 50 percent half last year, Reuters cited US government's official statistics released on Friday as saying.

The release of official US statistics came despite the claims by certain American officials that they "have tried to sanction Iran without unduly harming ordinary Iranians, granting licenses, for example, to US companies that wish to export pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and other humanitarian goods to Iran".

The US official data also supports the remarks by some Iranian sanctions lawyers and independent experts that financial sanctions are making it harder for Iranians to obtain medicine despite loopholes designed to permit such trade.

Exports of pharmaceuticals fell to $14.8 million from $31.1 million in 2011, while sales of vitamins, medicinal and botanical drugs decreased to $4.9 million from $10.8 million.

Exports of surgical appliances and supplies also declined to $2.4 million last year from $3.7 million the previous year.

Sanctions lawyers have said the blacklisting of Iran's major banks has made it extremely difficult to find smaller Iranian banks able to conduct such licensed transactions as well as international banks willing to deal with them.

A report issued on Friday by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars made the same point.

"Draconian penalties for a potential US sanctions violation are discouraging the involvement of international banks in humanitarian trade with Iran," said the report, entitled: "Sanctions and Medical Supply Shortages in Iran."

The report, written by Dubai-based consultant Siamak Namazi, said researchers in Tehran and Dubai interviewed US and European exporters as well as Iranian importers and found that the financial sanctions tended to scare off banks.

"Even when the most reputable American and European pharmaceutical companies are involved and their lawyers have completed all the necessary paperwork ... nearly all banks that Iran deals with prefer to err on the side of caution," it said. "Their hesitation is understandable given that a mistake could earn a bank the wrath of the US Treasury Department."

Last week, an Iranian lawmaker blasted the West for impeding medical and pharmaceutical supplies to Iran through blocking the country's financial transactions with foreign states.

"The US and Europe are after creating a health crisis and shortage of drugs in Iran through their sanctions," Kermanshah's deputy Seyed Saeed Heydari said.

"The foreign media deny the imposition of sanctions on medicine and medical equipments, but everybody knows that they (the US and its European allies) are seeking victory in the soft war (against Iran) by any means, including the boycott on the supply of drugs and medical equipments," he continued.

Last month in similar remarks, President of the Iranian Academy of Medical Sciences and member of the Iranian Parliament's Health Commission Dr. Seyed Alireza Marandi lambasted the West for banning medical and pharmaceutical exports to Iran through blocking the country's financial transactions with foreign states.

Marandi questioned the US and western states' claims that they have exempted medicine from the sanctions and restrictions against Iran.

"(The sales of) medicines have not been banned directly; of course there are some pharmaceutical companies that refuse to sell drugs to us but those which sell medicine to us want their money and the money should be paid by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and the CBI is under sanction and cannot pay the money."

"It's like you build a fence around someone to protect his security, but no one is allowed to enter for the very same excuse, including those who want to enter the area to bring water and food supplies. So, on the surface, you seem to have not blocked the supply of water and foodstuff, but in essence, you do not allow these items to arrive in that specific are," explained Dr. Marandi, a former Health Minister.

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