Iranian-Americans Send Medicine Home as Sanctions Hit Drug Supplies

Sanctions Cripple Iran's Drug-Making Industry

As the Obama Administration continues to impose broader sanctions on Iran, the official focus is on how much less oil Iran is able to export. Yet the sanctions have done huge damage to civilian industry, including medicine.

With trade never all that easy for Iran since the Revolution, the nation manufactures most of its own medications. But while the US has nominally relaxed sanctions on medicine sales, the inability to pay for mass imports of completed drugs, and difficulty at importing the raw materials for the domestic plants, has caused major shortages.

Its terrifying for Iranians whose lives depend on drugs which may not be available much longer, while Iranian-Americans are doing their best to get the medicine in the US and import it directly to family back home.

That’s not so easy, as even though the US “exempts” medicines from their sanctions banking sanctions keep Iranians from buying them outright. Families in the US often struggle to find doctors willing to ignore the law and sell them medicine for a patient on the other side of the planet, who they’ve never seen and whose symptoms they can’t directly confirm. Individual shipments of prescriptions is far from an efficient way of doing things, but as a matter of life and death the process will continue so long as people can get away with it.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.