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Healthcare Post Sanctions
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Healthcare Post Sanctions

The post-sanctions landscape has opened new horizons for the country, said Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi on Wednesday.
“It will facilitate entry of the private sector to various fields including healthcare,” he said in his messages on Telegram and Instagram social media, IRNA reported.
Noting that investing in healthcare has tremendous economic benefits “at little risk,” Hashemi said a review of experiences of other nations with successful healthcare systems indicate that “the financial turnover of the medical equipment sector is twice that of oil and gas industries.”
At present, more than 37% of sophisticated medical equipment is imported at huge costs, including imaging equipment for CT scans, MRI, and radiology machines as the manufacturing technology is not available at home. About $750 million worth of medical equipment was imported in the previous Iranian year (ended March 20, 2014), accounting for around one-third of the domestic demand for medical equipment ($2 billion).
Reza Kompani, secretary of Iran Industrial Equipment Manufacturers Association, had stated last May that relevant manufacturing technologies would also be imported along with medical equipment in future, to enable Iranian manufacturers to start production of medical devices domestically.
According to the 2015 report on Iran’s medical equipment sector, Business Monitor International (BMI) research group predicted that it would reach $1.28 billion in 2018. The industry generated $832.5 million in 2013 and its revenues are expected to grow at a relatively moderate compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.1% in 2018. The market size has been estimated using a trade-based approach, looking at imports, and then adding in domestic production, minus any exports.

  Drug Shortages
Sanctions, imposed by the West over Iran’s nuclear program, also took a toll by creating shortages in many essential drugs from the year 2012 onwards despite the repeated statements of international organizations that “there were no sanctions on medicines for the Islamic Republic.” However, restrictions on banking transactions had a huge impact on the pharmaceutical market as international payments became problematic and at times impossible, Hashemi noted.
A sudden 50% rise in the prices of drugs impacted more than six million patients suffering from complex diseases such as hemophilia, multiple sclerosis, thalassemia, epilepsy, and various immunological disorders, as well as transplant and kidney dialysis patients and those being treated for cancer.
Consequently, in the past several years sanctions severely impacted the lives and health of Iranians.
“The biggest impediment for the Health Ministry during the sanctions regime was the exorbitant costs which had to be borne by the healthcare system due to the number of intermediaries in money transfers while purchasing medicines,” said Rasoul Dinarvand, deputy health minister and the head of the Food and Drug Administration. “We also faced problems regarding importing knowhow.”
With the lifting of sanctions prices of important medicines are bound to fall and their availability in the market will be assured, says Dinarvand.

  Availability
Among medications that are expected to be easily available and at cheaper rates are chemotherapy drugs, and products including prosthetics, orthotics, and special bandages used daily by epidermolysis bullosa (EB) patients to cover their perpetually bleeding wounds, which cost 1.5 million rials ($42) a pack, reports the Young Journalists Club.
Dinarvand stressed that restrictions were mostly on medical equipment and technology rather than medicines, since “there were only few companies that refused to trade with Iran, particularly those producing radio medicines.”
But sanctions also helped Iran reach self-sufficiency in terms of certain medical devices and technology such as syringes, needles, catheters, dental instruments and orthopedics. But over 90% of this market is still supplied by imports.
Iraj Harirchi, Health Ministry spokesperson, said some East Asian companies have now expressed readiness to invest in Iran’s healthcare.
“Lifting of sanctions will not affect the prices of domestically produced drugs,” he added.

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