Iran promises to export medicines to Hungary due to severe shortages

As Iran faces a serious shortage of medicines and some prices increase sevenfold, the Islamic Republic says it is ready to export medicines to Hungary.

Economy Minister Ehsan Khandouzi, who visited Budapest, said on Thursday that Tehran is open to joint investment in pharmaceuticals as the prices of Iranian products are “lower than those of foreign competitors”.

The visit and talks on economic cooperation come as Hungary is a member of NATO and the EU, while Iran has been harshly criticized by the European Union for using intense violence against demonstrators and supplying Russia with drones to attack Ukraine.

The minister’s claim comes because many of the raw materials required for the production of medicines are imported into Iran. The Islamic Republic also relies on imports for most of the medicines needed to treat life-threatening conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Most medicines in Iran are produced locally by quasi-government companies. When the Iranian currency started to take a nosedive in early 2018, the government offered a fixed exchange rate for essential goods, mainly food and medicine.

Earlier this year, however, President Ebrahim Raisi’s new government scrapped what was effectively a government subsidy. Now food and drug makers have to buy dollars at rates seven times higher to import their raw materials, which has disrupted domestic production.

Reports from Iran say that people cannot even find painkillers, IV fluids and antibiotics in pharmacies.

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