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Iran’s Medicine Production Capacity Exceeds Domestic Demand

By Orkhan Jalilov October 20, 2019


An Iranian pharmacist arranges medicine on shelves at a pharmacy in central Tehran, Iran, December 11, 2012. / AP

An Iranian deputy minister of health has said that medicine production capacity in the country is about 4.5 times more than the domestic demand.

“International cooperation will be useful for Iran in terms of medicine exports and [obtaining] foreign exchange,” Mohammadreza Shanehsaz, Deputy Minister of Health and Head of Iran’s Food and Drug Administration (IFDA), said on October 17 on the sidelines of the 66th Session of WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean held in Tehran.

“As medicine production capacity in the country is 4 to 4.5 times more than the domestic requirement, so we are seeking to find new markets in order to reduce the expenses of domestic pharmaceutical companies in Iran, thus lowering the cost of medicine for domestic consumers.”

Shanehsaz believes the cooperation with Eastern Mediterranean regional countries can lay the ground for exporting medicine and medical equipment, transferring technical know-how and knowledge as well as empowering capabilities of these countries.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani slammed the United States for abandoning the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying that “even more disgraceful was the act of imposing sanctions on food and medicines destined for Iranians.”

The Trump administration has made it more difficult for European countries to export medicine to Iran. Swiss pharmaceutical exports to Iran decreased by 30 percent from $240 million in 2017 to $167 million last year, according to Swiss customs data. Similarly, French pharmaceutical exports to Iran decreased by 25 percent from $218 million to $164 million last year.

Iran currently manufactures 105 medical equipment products meeting international standards, including the European CE marking, and exports the products to 55 countries. 

In September, the secretary of Biotechnology Development Headquarter at the Iranian Vice-Presidency for Science and Technology, Mostafa Qanei, said that Iranian biopharmaceuticals were being exported to major customers like Russia, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Turkey, adding that plans are also underway to transfer Iranian biopharmaceuticals technology to Argentina.

The pharmaceutical products made by the domestic knowledge-based companies and start-ups in Iran are worth $1.2 billion. About 67 percent of raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry in Iran is provided by local companies.