Domestic Economy

Overcompliance With Sanctions Harms Thalassemia Patients in Iran: UN

Overcompliance With Sanctions Harms Thalassemia Patients in Iran: UN
Overcompliance With Sanctions Harms Thalassemia Patients in Iran: UN

United Nations experts said on Tuesday that thalassemia patients in Iran were being penalized by overcompliance with United States sanctions against the country, which have reduced their access to vital medication from abroad, the United Nations Human Rights Office wrote on its website.
Thalassemia is a serious hereditary disease that affects the production of haemoglobins, which regulate the lifecycle and functioning of red blood cells. It afflicts people from birth and requires specialized medication to eliminate overload during blood transfusions. 
Iran has a particularly high number of thalassemia patients.
“The lack of access to medication has resulted in many more deaths. Since the reimposition of sanctions against Iran by the US in 2018, overcompliance with sanctions has escalated, affecting the import of life-saving iron-regulating medicines for Iranian thalassemia patients. This not only violates their right to health, but also results in increased complications and mortality rates,” they said.
The UN experts said the supply of such medications from the Swiss pharmaceutical group Novartis – the leading supplier – and key ingredients for these medicines produced by the French company Roquette Frères – was denied to Iran.
“The humanitarian exemptions for medical goods in US sanctions regulations are complex and unclear. In addition, recent US practices impose high fines on pharmaceutical companies selling medicine to Iran, triggering fear in medical, delivery and insurance business sectors,” they said.
The UN experts said foreign companies – whether producers, shippers, insurers, or banks – were reluctant to do business with Iran out of fear of aggressive US sanctions enforcement and penalties, even when the supply is authorized.
“All it takes is one link in the supply chain to be absent for the medicines to not reach thalassemia patients in Iran, exposing them to fear, pain and premature death,” the experts said.
Companies involved in the process of supplying thalassemia medications have the responsibility to protect the human rights of patients in Iran under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the experts recalled.
“The legality of the US unilateral sanctions against Iran is doubtful under international law, and so is the legality of their extraterritorial enforcement,” they said. “Still, companies outside the US feel obliged to comply to avoid facing legal or business repercussions,” they said.
“We call on the US government to ensure that humanitarian exemptions for medicines are effectively implemented, that any obstacles in financial transactions for medical purposes are lifted, and that no secondary sanctions are imposed on those individuals or entities engaging with Iran and Iranian businesses in this regard.” 
The experts urged the US to make sure that businesses within their jurisdictions comply with their human rights obligations and ensure thalassemia patients in Iran get access to life-saving medicine.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints