By Pooya Stone
Scarcity and high prices of medication in Iran has become a bottleneck in the lives of the people.
While drugs are abundant in Iran’s black markets, ordinary people are struggling to get medication from official centers and drug stores.
One of these markets is located in Tehran’s Nasser Khosrow Street. All over Nasser Khosrow Street, the sound of chemises rings in the ears of consumers, offering drugs to patients desperately seeking medication.
Dealers in the area sell drugs at whatever price they want, and buyers have no other choice than to comply with the wishes of the dealers.
Commenting on the boom in the drug market in Nasser Khosrow Street, ISNA news agency wrote in September :
“Although Ministry of Health officials have repeatedly stated that there is no shortage of medicine in the country, the hot market for drug dealers indicates something else and these days drug dealers work illegally because of the currency rate changes and its effects on drug imports have been booming more than ever, bringing the dealers to their usual hangout, Nasser Khosrow Street. You can get all kinds of pills, medicines and syringes that are even rare in specialized pharmacies. The disaster has reached a point, where health ministry officials have called on security and judicial authorities to address the issue.”
Among the wares of these unauthorized sellers are a variety of rare, scarce, hand-made and even counterfeit medicines offered to patients.
There are many non-standard, counterfeit and expired medicines, but the traffickers put them in standard packaging when they offered them to consumers.
According to Mohammad Hossein Ghorbani, a parliament member, 90% of the drugs sold in Nasser Khosrow are counterfeit and in most cases the date of use of these drugs is manipulated and, they are labeled as brand products. (Fars News Agency 6 September 2019)
While chaos in the drug market continues to fester, the Ministry of Health is not taking any responsibility for it.
Gholamhossein Mehralian, director of the Food and Drug Administration of the Ministry of Health, said his ministry is not responsible for “the task monitoring the black market”.
This is in the context of a $1 billion import of electrical properties instead of stents for heart by the government! Which such corruption in the ministry, it is natural that it is not in a position to combat drug trafficking, counterfeit and nonstandard drugs.
While on the surface, Iranian health ministry officials are sympathizing with the ordeals of the people, they are deeply complicit with the drug traffickers and are contributing immensely to the compromising of the health of the Iranian people.
The fact is that the problem of drug trafficking in Nasser Khosrow is not for today or yesterday, but rather a problem of the corrupted rule. The abundance of counterfeit medicines on the market is under the condition that many domestic and imported drugs are smuggled overseas.
But the director general of the Food and Drug Administration downplayed the drug trafficking situation and the problems people face in buying nonofficial drugs, and described the problem of counterfeit drugs and smuggled drugs as a “small problem,” saying: “As a person standing on the front line of this ministry, I believe this market (smuggled drugs) is very small and not a big market at all. The exchanges that exist on the black drug market are very small. ”
It is astounding that this government insider says, “We know the mechanism for filling the black market” but doesn’t know “what group or persons are behind the story”!
The fact is that one should not go far in identifying the factors that drive the black market and drug trafficking. Those who spent a billion dollars on purchasing power cables and electrical appliances in the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Health could have imported and sold heart stent for heart patients with the 4,200 Tuman government fixed-rate.
But they sold them for more than 12,000 Tuman to the free market. Indeed, they and their bosses know very well how to fill the black market with counterfeit and unofficial drugs.
The abundance of smuggling drug on Nasser Khosro Street is due to violations by drug companies controlled by the Ministry of Health. While the security forces, especially the Ministry of Intelligence, claim to have an intelligence aristocracy over many issues, the Director General of Pharmaceuticals says, “We did not have any reports of drug company violations by security authorities!”
The clues of the drug trafficking mafia are in the hands of the Ministry of Health and controlled by the senior elements of the government.
The corruption situation at the Ministry of Health is so obvious that the new minister, Saeed Nemaki, has said after assuming the post, that “this rotten and nonsense network should be disbanded.”
The story of the discovery of smuggled and hoarded drugs by the daughter of former minister of industry Nematzadeh and the discovery of her drug stockpile, which had a large number of expired drugs, is one of the many instances of government sedition and corruption about the drugs that people need immediately.
Such a situation of drug corruption among the government institutions and leaders has fueled the Nasser Khosrow Street drug market.
Such a market would never take shape without the green light from government agencies and leaders to sell illicit drugs.
Corruption in the medicine needed by the people is part of the economic corruption rooted in the ruling regime, a corruption that stems from institutionalized political corruption.