So where am I on the medication issue? The following summary provides the current status:
The United States imposed such onerous sanctions that medications cannot get to Iran. That is why the Iranian intern, on February 2015 in the Gainesville Neurological Center at FSU, told Mariam and I Parkinson’s medications were not available to sufferers of that disease in Iran.
June 6, 2016, study published on the NIH website (see link on home page) documenting six million Iranians adversely impacted by lack of medications
The paucity of medications in Iran was reported by numerous attendees at an Iranian American Conference in October 2016. I will never forget talking to one pharmaceutical rep who told me that, when she got a cancer drug to Iran, she could NOT relay questions from the Iranian doctor to the US drug manufacturer. She had to forward the questions thru a rep in another country then wait until that rep got a response from the US. I heard another story where Iranians would pack advil and aspirin back to Iran and hand them out as gifts. One woman talked about how the black market for drugs in Iran was created as a result of sanctions and that was why drugs were very expensive. Lastly, one person related to me the heart break when she walked the corridors of a hospital that were lined with medical machines that could not be used because of the lack of parts. THIS conference was held October 2016.
December 22, 2016, OFAC issues new regulations easing restrictions on the sale of medications from the US to Iran. The reports on these new regulations exemplifies the absurdity of OFAC and the US regulatory system. One of the touted benefits is techs employed by US medical manufacturers can now talk to and even visit Iran to address technical issues with these devices. AND, Iran can NOW order more than one replacement part if a part of a US medical device needs replaced. One only needs to ask yourself what was required on December 21, 2016.
News reports indicate medication issue largely arrested. The word “largely” is critical. Rhouhani and Zarif are reported to say the JCPOA and internal drug productions have helped Iran in meeting medication needs.
Anecdotal information I have from citizens within Iran is medication crisis is better. Production within Iran and imports from multiple countries has eased crisis. Problems still exist. Costs are exorbitant, 30 medications still in short supply, drug companies that deal inside Iran refuse to work with American drug manufacturers because of fear of running afoul of sanctions and specific cancer drugs are still not available. One Drug company rep reported to me that his company refuses to allow any Iranian workers to talk to their American counterparts for fear of running afoul of the US government. There is fear within Iran sanctions relief will end if JCPOA is dismantled by the US and this will again cause major medication shortages.
I have tried to drill down into OFAC to get to the bottom of this medication issue and the regulatory structure of this black box. I first contacted OFAC but got an unsatisfactory response. Wrote detailed letter to Senator Kaine to seek his assistance and getting info on this issue. They held the letter for 10 weeks. They refused to send the letter initially. I made this an issue on Kaine’s FB page and following Monday received an email they were sending letter for treasury but asking the response be sent to me..NOT to his office. The exchange with Kaines staff is documented on Mariam’s website.
I plan to meet with an OFAC attorney this fall to seek assistance there. Please note part of the issue is the Parkinsons medication, that has been used since the 1960s, requires a special license from OFAC. I cannot seem to find any info on this medication/OFAC. Processing of these licenses is reported to take six to 22 months.
This is the bottom line. I want OFAC’s handling of the medications, medical devices, and everything else to be front and center. I personally believe OFAC enforces rules that are punitive and dissuade commerce with Iran by design. The regulatory structure alone is bureaucratic idiocy but the issuance of ridiculous fines is an example of the extent Treasury will go to thwart commercial ties with Iran. It is institutionalized Iranophobia. If you read my article about experts on this blog I give more examples. I want to expose this idiocy.
The second thing I want is for the Congress to do two things. I want Congress to acknowledge the impacts they have had on the Iranian people and I want a clear statement that echoes in the boardrooms of every drug manufacturer, banker, insurance carrier, product transporter and every law office around the world, that the United States will never tolerate the needless suffering of the Iranian people regardless of the state of conflict between Iran and the US.
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