What Does the Iran Deal Mean for Pharma?
Upon the announcement of the Iranian nuclear deal, business leaders around the world are pondering the consequences and opportunities that relaxing international sanctions could bring.
However, current sanctions contain several key exceptions for pharmaceutical products, and drug makers have been allowed to sell in Iran for years. In 2001, a law permitted U.S. companies to obtain specific licenses for selling drugs to Iranian groups, and in 2012, this leniency was expanded to allow the general sale of basic medicines.
That doesn't mean the sanctions haven't hampered operations in Iran. Stringent restrictions on that country’s banking sector frequently tangle up the financial processes necessary for pharma deals.
“Iran can in theory purchase Western medicine,” said Siamak Namazi, a former fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. “But in practice it is extremely difficult to pay for the lifesaving drugs it needs.”
Both Novartis and Roche have branches in Tehran and have recently sent representatives to explore possible areas for expansion, should sanctions be lifted. Analysts have said the Iranian market is primed for growth, and companies could turn a considerable profit by providing the country with more advanced treatment options.
A number of growth markets in non-Western countries are triggering a boom in pharma investment. Could Iran be next?