Since the government of ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi first announced its plans in September, the cost of some essential drugs has more than quadrupled.
Prices are likely to surge further when the government officially cuts the subsidy, a prospect that has triggered alarm and anger in Iran. Many Iranians are already struggling to make ends meet in a decimated economy that has been crushed by crippling U.S. sanctions and years of mismanagement.
In 2018, then-President Hassan Rohani approved a subsidy that allocated billions in subsidized dollars for Iranian manufacturers to import essential food and medicine. The aim was to control prices even as the value of Iran’s national currency tanked after the United States reimposed sanctions against Tehran. Critics said the subsidy led to corruption and failed to curb inflation.
But there are fears that the lifting of the subsidy will lead to Iranian drug companies hiking prices. While domestic manufacturers supply most of the country’s drugs, much of the raw material used is imported. Iran also imports most drugs needed for the treatment of life-threatening conditions like cancer and heart disease.