Health Products in FTZ to Be Monitored

Health Products in FTZ to Be MonitoredHealth Products in FTZ to Be Monitored

The Food and Drug Administration and the Free Zones Supreme Council signed a MOU to increase supervision of health products in free trade zones (FTZ).

The MOU seeks to establish safety with regard to food products and medications in the special economic zones by giving supervisory authority to the supreme council.

“The supreme council has capacities to monitor the import of health-based products within a legal framework,” said Rasoul Dinarvand, head of the FDA.

He also pointed to non-availability of some drugs and medical services in the country for which people have to pay a high cost for the imported product or for using the services abroad, and expressed hope that the MOU would enable free zones to provide the services.

Dinarvand  noted that free zones can become hubs of international health tourism and export. “Neighboring countries are exploiting their health tourism capacities and the more we delay, the greater we stand to lose financially,” he said.

The main aim of the MOU is to block contraband and eliminate smuggling of health products.

On average 19 to 20% of health products (pharmaceutical, cosmetic and sanitary) are contraband, of which the highest percentage pertains to cosmetics. Nearly 50% of cosmetics in the market are smuggled,” he said.

In addition, many of the cosmetics are counterfeits of well-known brands coming through the border markets and sold at lower prices. These products put people’s health at risk. The official warned women against using such products.    

Smuggling is not confined to cosmetics alone and the food sector which is a four times bigger is affected as well. According to Dinarvand, a large number of food products in the markets in northern Tehran are imported illegally.

He also pointed to smuggling of dietary supplements and blamed it on the large-scale demand and the fact that a number of the products are illegal and can only be found in the black market.

To control the black market, the FDA had earlier pledged to ensure a ban on sports supplements in gyms in a MOU with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Goods are illegally imported into the country through the porous border areas. Markets in these areas have been launched to address the issue of unemployment but they have caused other problems.

Dinarvand hoped that the latest MOU will help alleviate the problem.