By staff and agency

Sanctions-hit Iran struggles to make cancer drugs: report

March 3, 2020 - 8:59

In a report published by AFP on Monday, it is said that the United States sanctions against Iran have caused problems for making cancer drugs.

“We have many issues at the moment. Because of the sanctions, usually we can’t either transfer the money or the supplier is not willing to sell the machinery that we need,” Reza Mostofi, manager of a facility in an industrial district of Karaj, said.

He also said, “Much of the equipment that we are using either in production or in laboratory, they are considered as dual-use and they are sanctioned.”

On paper, humanitarian items are exempt from U.S. sanctions, but in reality banks tend to decline transactions involving Iran to avoid being exposed to potential litigation.

“The equipment that we are using, the spare parts and everything, now we have a big issue for repairing the spare parts that are needed,” said Mostofi.

For the past six months, he said, the plant has been unable to produce a drug that is essential for treating leukaemia.

"For some time we have not been able to import the ingredients of this material, so our line... is now stopped," said the English-speaking manager.

The company hopes to produce the active ingredient itself, with a "very big" bioreactor, but it faces almost insurmountable difficulties because of the sanctions.

Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour voiced concern about the situation.

“Regarding cancer patients, we had no problem because we are producing the medicine ourselves... (but) our companies want to renew, rebuild and replace their industrial equipment,” he told AFP.

According to him, there are 500,000 cancer patients in Iran, and it is the second biggest cause of death in the country, claiming 30,000 lives a year.


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