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What Lifting of Iran Sanctions Means to the Pharmaceutical Industry

May 17th, 2016 - 0 Comments

The patchwork of sanctions imposed against Iran is conceivably the most comprehensive sanctions ever marshalled by the international community. The sanctions, systematized by different countries with diverse priorities using different implements, played a key role in convincing Iran to accept restraints on its nuclear program and negotiate over it.

The deal enables Iran to become an active member of the international community once again. Further,

> Guidelines notifying the lifted sanctions have been issued by the EU and US

> EU is more free to do business than US with Iran


Key industries to be impacted from Iranian sanction relief


Before the sanctions were imposed, the Iranian national pharmaceutical industry played a major role in providing essential medicines to the Iranian patients. In recent years, the country’s national industry was also able to locally manufacture several lifesaving biopharmaceuticals. However, following the sanctions, the Iranian pharmaceutical market faced profound hurdles to import both finished products and active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) to fulfill its responsibility to provide essential medicines for the patients in need.

Although medicines are always exempted from sanctions, many international companies failed to fill orders from Iran due to restrictions on money transaction, proper insurance and sometimes assurances that the item indeed was exempted from the restrictions. Despite Iran facing an embargo limiting its international and trade relationships, many renowned companies like Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Novartis, etc. have been active in this market, implying that the pharmaceutical industry in Iran is a lucrative business. 85,000 new cancer patients are diagnosed each year, requiring chemotherapy and radiotherapy which are scarce. In addition, there were over 8,000 Haemophiliacs who are finding it harder to get blood clotting agents. Operations on Haemophiliacs have been virtually suspended because of the risks created by the shortages.

The most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups are mothers, children and patients with chronic disease. The obvious reduction in public resources allocated for the heath sector with the restrictions on the import of vital medicines and equipment has ultimately resulted in weakened physical and medical infrastructures and strained the ability of the health system to provide medicines and services to the patients.


Impact of sanctions uplifting on pharmaceutical industry in Iran

> Iran can purchase western medicines and can easily pay for the lifesaving drugs it needs, as a relief on the financial and banking sectors

> Iran is preparing the grounds for multinational companies to return to its territory, either to produce or purchase pharmaceutical products

> The sanction relief will also facilitate the easy import of machinery and its parts for pharmaceutical manufacturing

> The sanction lift enables the pharmaceutical sector to produce adequate drugs required for domestic use

> International pharmaceutical companies can find lucrative prospects either through joint ventures or direct investment

> Iran has great progress in the biotechnology sector (e.g. biosimilars, plasma products, insulin, vaccines, oncology etc.)

This will likely allow the Iranian pharmaceutical sector to produce adequate drugs needed for domestic use and strengthen the distribution channel. In addition, Novo Nordisk and Novartis have officially announced their plans to directly invest in the market. This will also improve the prospect of Iran opening up to trade and providing opportunities for pharmaceutical companies to be a part of its growth. Major therapeutic areas like haemophilia, cancer, women’s health and other chronic diseases that suffered due to sanctions can be catered to with ease now.

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