Iranian lawmaker warns of ‘serious shortage’ of essential medicines

A member of the Iranian parliament said the shortage of medicines in the country has reached a critical stage and that the Iranian pharmaceutical industry is on the verge of collapse.

Abdul Hossein Rohalmini said on July 6 that 13 Aban Pharmacy, the largest drug distributor in Iran, is currently short of 356 drugs. He said if this trend continues, the country will face a “serious shortage” of drugs.

WATCH: An estimated 95% of drugs in Afghanistan enter the country illegally. According to an investigation by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, a significant portion of pharmaceuticals come from Iran and are smuggled into Afghanistan by trucks and buses.

In March, parliament voted to cut drug subsidies. State media reported that Iran’s cash-strapped government would save some $9 billion a year by cutting drug subsidies.

Although domestic manufacturers provide most of Iran’s drugs, a large portion of the raw materials needed to manufacture the drugs are imported. Iran also depends on imports for most of the drugs needed to treat life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and coronary heart disease.

At the end of June, the Iranian Union of Pharmaceutical Industries warned President Ebrahim Raisi of a critical situation in which the production lines of pharmaceutical drugs could break down from July.

Rohalmini also criticized current health minister Iraj Harirchi and previous ones, saying they should be tried for crimes for not “implementing general health policies”.

Iran’s economy has been devastated by years of harsh economic sanctions imposed by the United States after Washington pulled out of an agreement Iran signed with five world powers aimed at curbing Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.

The poor economic situation has led hundreds of thousands of people to demonstrate in recent months. Many protests were met with repression by security forces.

With writing and reporting by Ardeshir Tayebi

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