The letter that I asked Kaines office to send to treasury is at the bottom. . That is the letter referenced in the following email documenting my exchange with Kaine's staff.
lon crow <>
To:Kalaris, Andrew (Kaine),Araoz-Riveros, Gaston (Kaine)
Aug 3 at 4:30 PM
Andrew: Thank you for you phone call a few moments ago. I am rather distressed that it has taken over two months to get a response regarding my letter. The following exchanged occurred regarding this letter. If you believe I am in error or have mischaracterized the exchange in anyway please let me know immediately. This serves notice that failure to correct any of the following characterizations of our exchange by COB this Friday will constitute admission that the summary of the points of our discussion identify below are accurate. I am not waiting another ten weeks for a response.
1. Kaine's office believes that, given the current tensions between Iran and the US, it would be inappropriate for Kaine's office to send my letter to the United States Department of Treasury as requested.
2. You stated you have read my letter as well as visited the website referenced in the letter and based upon that review and discussions within Kaines office, the above conclusion was reached.
3. To be clear, and as I iterated several times during our conversation, the focus of the letter was to get information from Treasury regarding whether three drugs, used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, has been authorized for export from the US to Iran. I acknowledged that there are other issues itemized in that letter but the Parkinson's Disease medication was the focus. (The fact this is the first item of the reference letter should be evidence of this and given the information on the website it should be clear that Parkinson's disease was the genesis of this effort.)
4. You suggested I contact Treasury or drug companies to gather this information. I informed you that I did indeed contact Treasury to no avail. I made this point twice during our exchange.
5. You stated that I would be getting an official response from Kaine's office but did not identify a time line as I requested. Given that my initial letter was sent to Kaine's office almost 10 weeks I will find it less than satisfactory if it requires another ten weeks for a response.
6. You apologized for the tardiness of the reply due to a staff change. I informed you that I have been in contact with Gaston of your field office on almost a weekly basis. I informed you that Gaston replied to each of my emails with the response that the information has been forwarded to Kaine's office. (He assured me the issue was brought up between your field office and the DC office on more than one occasion)
6. I stated I have every intention of making this issue a very public matter and I will emphasize the lack of responsiveness of Kaine's office.
Finally, as not discussed during our conversation but as presented in the letter and expressed in the website you stated you reviewed, the issue comes down to the impacts this country has had on the citizens of Iran. Specifically, the health of these citizens and the adverse impact our government has had on their health. I find it amazing that 'tensions between governments" override the human impacts I have outlined. The subject letter, as stated, was designed as an attempt to use the power of your office to get to the bottom of this ongoing issue. It is sad that Kaine's office seems to care not about this issue. I sent a video via email to your office of a young Iranian man suffering from Parkinson's and identified the problems he was having not getting medications just two weeks ago. I would have thought that would have resulted in a more compassionate response. This failure to act will not go unnoticed.
I have made these six points to in our exchange during our phone call that began at 3:05 this day, August 3, 2017. Again, if I have miss characterized any of the six points identified above during this exchange let me know by COB August 5, 2017. Given the lack of responsiveness of your office, I think this is the least Kaines office can do.
Below is a letter sent to Tim Kaines office on May 27. I am waiting a response.
392 Lake Landing Rd, Lottsburg, Va, 22511
Date: May 26, 2017
I am looking for answers from the Department of Treasury (more specifically OFAC) to a few questions regarding the licensing of medicines, sanctions and Iran. I have found a need to initiate a paper trail regarding this issue and I am hopeful you can assist me in the creation of this record. I will state that I have had interactions with staff from OFAC and I have ALWAYS found them to be immediate in their responses to my inquiries. I am hopeful that they are as responsive in the written responses as well. The following “Background” will provide you with an overview of this issue and should also provide some context for Treasury as they address the questions I list below. The responses should help refine my next round of questions to Treasury.
My concern stems from an appointment with the internationally recognized Parkinson’s Doctor, Dr Okun in February 2015. As it happened, my Iranian wife had an appointment with Dr Okun a month after his return from Tehran. I will never forget the look on the face of an Iranian intern that accompanied Okun on this trip. When she discussed Iran with my wife, she shook her head and said that medications for Parkinson’s Disease are not available in Iran. This includes the number one treatment for that disease that has been in use since the 1950s for that disease. If the percentage of population in the US with this disease is applied to Iran, that means 275,000 Iranians suffer from this disease but the said truth is that number is most assuredly higher since the prevalence of the disease is much greater in the middle east than other parts of the globe.
Attached to this letter is a study that was published on the US National Institute of Health’s website on June 8, 2016. In short, it examined the impacts of sanctions on medicines getting from the US to Iran. Six million Iranians have been impacted by the lack of medications and the details are identified in that study. There are recommendations contained in the study and are summarized in table 3. Some of the recommendations deal with OFAC specifically. Those recommendations are referenced in the questions below. (Here is a link to the study –
In addition, I attended a Washington DC conference in October 2016 with a group representing Iranian Americans. The stories relayed to me by attendees were horrific. One attendee, who had established a cancer center in Shiraz, Iran in honor of her father, spoke to the heart break she witnessed when medical equipment to treat cancer sat idle along the corridors of that center because of the lack of parts to service the equipment. A pharmaceutical representative told me a story about a cancer medication that she navigated through the OFAC process. The Iranian doctor had questions related the drug but because of prohibitions established by our government, she could not contact the drug company in the US to answer the questions. She had to go through a Kuwait representative who had to relay the questions to the American company and then wait until the American representative to send the needed information back through Kuwait and then on to the cancer sufferer’s doctor in Iran. If memory serves me correctly this exchange took two days. Imagine if this were a member of your family plagued with this disease.
To give you some additional sense as to just how extreme our regulatory burden is on the exchange of good and services between Iran and the US I could send you a lot of material but I think the experience of Shirin Ebadi sums it up best. Ebadi is a Nobel Peace Prize winning Iranian lawyer. She was the first Muslim woman to win that prize and she won that prize because of her efforts to battle the extremism of Iran’s theocratic regime in protecting the rights of women and children in Iran. She is famous the world over as a result. I was reading her first book a few days ago. She came to this country to publish the story of her struggle entitled, “Iran Awakening”. I knew OFAC regulations were burdensome but it was not until the last chapter in that book did I realize the extent. Ebadi was forced to file a lawsuit against Treasury because the regulations precluded her from publishing the book in this country. A country where, in theory, the freedom of expression is held as its highest core value. The alone should speak volumes to the onerousness of the current regulatory environment between Iran and this country.
The bottom line is that, in spite of actions by the United States that, in theory, are targeted and designed to thwart the various activities of ruling minority, the Iranian people are the collateral damage of the actions taken by the United States for 37 years. Merely making pronouncements that these actions should not impact humanitarian aid ignores the simple fact that, cumulatively, the actions of this country has led to the death and suffering of Iranian citizens. As identified in the attached study, the convoluted licensing process and banking sanctions has precluded medications getting to Iran. One must add that the fog created by the politicians regarding the need to isolate Iran AND the threatened destruction of the nuclear deal does not create a business environment conducive for drug companies desiring to do business in Iran.
There are specific recommendations contained in that study that need to be implemented. I am hopeful the paper trail that starts with the answers to these questions and the subsequent questions will provide for the implementation of those recommendations and will provide a platform for a better future between the people of Iran and the US Government. You cannot achieve regime change in Iran by reinforcing the ruling theocracy’s argument that actions by the US Government are, by design, bringing hardship to the Iranian people. Those hardships are, in part, documented in the attached study.
As I type this now, the theocrats are rejoicing in the new round of sanctions proposed by Congress. It takes little imagination to understand that, in the streets of Tehran, the hardliners are making the case that the first thing Congress does after the Iranian people overwhelmingly voted for change is to get more sanctions in response. Unlike the US, 70 percent of Iranians stood in long lines for hours to vote for change and engagement with the west only to have the first response from the US to be additional sanctions. I can assure you that action, however targeted Congress may think they are, will be viewed in Iran as a dismissal of Iranian’s efforts to diminish the theocrats hold on them. There is an opportunity to change this. It can start simply by acknowledging the simple fact that actions by the United States has caused adverse and an unintended impact on Iranians. Congress now has an opportunity to make things right and it may be as simple as acknowledging this impact and sending a message through the regulatory structure and directly to the business/banking communities. That message should be that the United States will never find it acceptable when a child with cancer goes without treatment or a citizen of any country with Parkinson’s disease suffers needlessly. That is the message that we should be sending to those that stood in those long lines.
There are over 14 drugs currently in use for Parkinsons and they include, but are not limited to, Sinemet (carbidopa/levodopa), Mirapex and Amantadine. Sinemet has been in use for almost 70 years. I believe these drugs are contained within a class of drugs that require a special license from OFAC. What I need is confirmation of this fact. I also would like to know if there has been a license issued for the three drugs mentioned above and, if so, I would like a copy of the license and/or a copy of the application for license for these three drugs or, in the alternative, as description of the process I need to go through to acquire this information.
I cannot find a record that documents how drugs that require a special license are identified. If such a record exists, I would like to know how I can acquire a copy of that record for a specific drug. If it requires a FOIA request I have no problem pursuing that course.
In differentiating between those drugs and medical supplies that require a special license versus a general license to what extent, if any, is there an assessment of the impacts of requiring a special license (which requires annual renewal and makes it more difficult to acquire) on the population of the impacted country? In this case of course I am referencing the 275,000 Iranian Parkinsons sufferers. Is there a balance of those impacts versus the factors used in assigning a special license?
Are there any consultations with the medical community regarding the listing of medicines/medical supplies that require a special license? If not, then the question comes down to how such decisions are made and to what extent that determination can be legally challenged?
Lastly, contained in the attached study is Table 3 that delineates specific measures to remedy the medication shortage issue. Clearly some of them deal with policy outside the purview of the Department of Treasury BUT for those that do fall under the jurisdiction of Treasury, I would like a response to those specific recommendations. Please note that, for now, I am looking for only a general response to the items that fall under Treasury’s jurisdiction. I know that OFAC is not fully staffed and do not desire a detailed response at this time. At this point I am at the preliminary stage of this investigation and I believe more specific information will be requested as I develop this record.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. My contact information is in the header of this letter if needed.