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Persian Letters

Iranian Media Say Sanctions Taking Toll On Seriously Ill Patients

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Sanctions imposed on Iran over its controversial nuclear activities are said to be taking a toll on the population, including seriously ill patients who find it increasingly difficult to access needed drugs.

Iranian media report that the country is facing shortages of medicine needed for the treatment of a number of illnesses -- including life-threatening conditions like cancer and heart disease, pulmonary problems, hemophilia, and multiple sclerosis.

"Tejaratnews," an Iranian trade publication, published a list over the weekend of 50 imported drugs that it says have become rare as a result of financial sanctions. Several types of antibiotics and at least two types of birth-control pill are also in short supply.

The website reports that some 40 drugs made inside the country are also difficult to obtain. The report says some cancer and diabetes patients are trying to buy from pharmacies large amounts of medicine, apparently to avoid interruption or delay in their supplies, which could have deadly consequences.

The run on drugs is exacerbating the drug shortage. “Tejaratnews” reports that 13 Aban Pharmacy, which specializes in drugs for special disorders, has introduced a rationing system.

The drugs that are still available have spiked in price, as one Tehran- based pharmacist told RFE/RL.

“Usually the price of drugs increases once or twice per year, but in the current year the price of many medications has increase five or six times," the source said. "This applies to almost all drugs. The price  of some side drugs has increased by 60 percent.”

The current drug shortage was foreseen months ago by the Iran’s Hemophilia Society and the Society of Special Diseases, which sent open letters to international organizations,  including the United Nations,  warning that sanctions were endangering the lives of many patients.

The daily “Shargh” reported in May that the country was running short on drugs for the treatment of 30 serious illnesses. The daily has cited international sanctions, the implementation of subsidy cuts, and the recent foreign-currency exchange-rate fluctuations as the main reason why.

Cancer is said to be the third-deadliest disease among Iranians. According to Iranian media, each year the number of cancer patients increases by 70,000 to 100,000.

One recently described to the BBC’s Persian Television the effect of skyrocketing drug prices and supply shortages. “Before, some foreign made drugs were available for 2,000,000 rials. But currently the price of an injection needed for cancer patients after chemotherapy is 50,000,000 rials," the source said. "As a patient, I’d rather die than impose such cost on my family."

The popular “Fararu” website reported last month that a cancer patient who stood in a long line at the 13 Aban Pharmacy to buy drugs he needed for chemotherapy was asked by a person outside the store as he left whether he would sell him the box the drugs came in.

The patient responded angrily and walked away but told the website that he couldn’t help wondering, “Will someone be forced to sell the boxes his medicine came in to be able to help pay for the cost of his treatment? And what kind of drug in those boxes, and at what price, will be sold to people?”

“Fararu” quoted experts who said that if serious measures were not taken, “sanctions would paralyze Iran’s health sector” and many people would die or suffer.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Allen from: NY
October 15, 2012 20:19
So much for the so called smart sanctions.

by: Anonymous
October 16, 2012 14:04
Sanctions target the Iranian government but sadly they hurt the people, and no one seem to care.
In Response

by: Zin from: Ger
October 18, 2012 15:45
all these sanctions against Iran are crime against humanity. And nobody, neither Iranian officials, nor Iranian nation have commited crimes, which should cause such sanctions. There are global criminals in usa, who commit crime against humanity from decades.

by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, Nevada USA
October 17, 2012 03:05
The man taking notes in your picture. Why is he in the operating room without surgical gloves.
His thumb looks infected with nail fungus. Why is he even allowed in the room? His presence is baffling!
In Response

by: Loubert from: France
October 17, 2012 11:08
Maybe he's an anesthesiologist? Sometimes patients need to be asleep during surgical procedures, even in Iran.
In Response

by: Les from: US
October 17, 2012 18:43
Touche'. Gloves are not necessary in an OR suite. Maybe it's nail polish. Maybe it's it is fungal. Hey, I've got an idea. Let's send surplus medications from NECC. Problem solved.

by: Zin from: Ger
October 18, 2012 15:42
these sanctions it is crime against humanity.
In Response

by: Frank from: London
October 19, 2012 23:22
All they have to do to get rid of the sanctions is open up Parchin to inspection, shut down Fordow and source their enriched uranium requirement from the cheapest supplier (Europe, USA or Russia), but of course such supplies can't be converted to military use, and it is a mark of such a high quality economic decision for Iran to use up scarce resources to do its own enrichment itself at thousands of times the cost of the imported product (even after the rial devaluation). Laugh my backside off. The leadership doesn't have to be accountable to its electorate for its dumb economic decisions, does it when it can fiddle elections, lock up dissidents, exclude election candidates and impose press censorship.

The argument is all about whether P5 + your country have the right to force Iran to give up its right to enrich uranium as a punishment for lying in the past and for not answering the outstanding concerns of the IAEA. Why do you blame the West for the inhumane sanctions? Would you like a nuclear armed Iran to substitute for Britain and France at the UN Security Council? Do you want to spread dictatorship, press censorship, crony capitalism, nepotism, dogma (West=evil, Iran=good), poor human rights, poor quality decision making, economic mismanagement and corruption? Do you think those are desirable things to promote? I feel sorry for individual Iranians adversely affected by the shortages of medicine, but the blame lies with the Iranian leadership in my view.
In Response

by: jamshid from: Germany
October 22, 2012 08:39
you are talking nonsense. what yoiu are saying is Iran should submit to what US and UK are saying: give up your enrichment programme, open all your sites to our inspectors, approve our policies in the Middle East, do undermine our strategic interests in the region and generally be subserviant to us. Bullshit ! The Islamic regime is odious bujt for the sake of Iran's future and its national interest Iran should pay the price so that it will not be bullieds or run over by Western countries. Remember that yoiu country invaded Iran in WWII. Stop talking nonsense and open your eyes and try to see things from the Iranian people's biew. The Iranian people do not need your sympathy. save that for you own people and those parents who are losing their sons and daughters in Afghanistan. Have you asked yourself what the hell your forces are doing in that country ?
In Response

by: Frank from: London
October 22, 2012 15:36
Jamshid

On the one hand you accept the leadership in your country is "odious", but yet you find it odious that the West wants to undermine your government's strategic interests (we want to stop it projecting power through being one screw-turn away from having a nuclear weapon?). I think your views highlight one of the difficulties of having a good relationship with Iran. Iran could be formidable force for good in the world without being subservient to the West but its leadership has mistakenly staked its national pride on mastering 1950's uranium enrichment technology, in my view. Iran has huge mineral wealth and expertise to make it a top 10 country in the world by GDP, but it chooses to be an economic failure. It is a lose-lose situation for both the West and Iran.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org