Joe Biden kept Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” sanctions — discouraging even legal, humanitarian trade.

by Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept

Amir Hossein Naroi, an Iranian boy, was only 10 years old when he died from thalassemia, an inherited blood disease. The condition is highly prevalent in the southern Iranian province of Sistan-Balochistan, where Naroi’s family lives; tens of thousands of people in the region are believed suffer from the disease. It is not an inevitably fatal condition: Thalassemia can be treated with regular blood transfusions and oral medications designed to remove the excess of iron built up in the bodies of patients. For much of his short life, Naroi was able to get treatment. His fate, however, was decided when access to the necessary medicines inside Iran began to dry up in recent years.

In the earliest years of his life, Naroi was taking a specialized drug known as Desferal, which is manufactured by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis. Starting in 2018, however, around the time that President Donald Trump launched a “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions against Iran, supplies of the iron-chelating drug in Iran — along with other medicines used to treat critical diseases — started to become difficult or impossible to access inside Iran, according to local NGOs supporting patients with the disease. By the summer of 2022, his organs failing due to complications from the disease, including damage to his organs from excess iron in his blood, Naroi passed away in a hospital, surrounded by his family.

Demonstrators protesting at a No War With Iran action on Market Street in San Francisco.

According to documents obtained by The Intercept, multinational companies providing drugs for thalassemia and other conditions, as well as banks acting as intermediaries for attempted purchases, said U.S. foreign policy was ultimately causing the problems delivering drugs to Iranians. Namely, American sanctions against Iran have made the transactions so difficult that supplies of the medicines are dwindling.

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