Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Is "Our" Merck Poised To Be FIRST US Pharma Co. To Contract Manuafcture Drugs INSIDE Iran?

At the outset, the caveats: only two small news organizations are reporting this (that's the Russian one), overnight -- but both clearly identify the party as MSD. Both call it the US multinational pharmaceutical concern. Even so, we have seen deep confusion about which is the German KGaA named Merck, and which is "our" Merck (US). . . for decades.

And, it would be more likely that a German company would actually build contract manufacturing operations inside Iran, as opposed to a US concern -- given the stultifying answers to Questions 170, and 171, in this US Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control Iran Sanctions primer. [One may be deemed to have violated the US law -- by receiving payments from Iran -- even if the transaction that generated the payment was exempt from the law -- i.e., delivery of life-saving medicines. Ugh.]

Having said that, in January 2014, the P5+1 powers signed an expanded access framework for humanitarian engagements -- in Iran. This arrangement, if it exists at all -- and were properly structured -- would easily qualify. Moreover, to be sure -- there are hundreds of thousands of Iranians with life threatening cancers, diabetes and who are afflicted with AIDS, or are living as HIV positive. So, is it "our" Merck that is going to be the first US pharmaco to use these P5+1 protocols to deliver meds, on the ground and in-country, from contract manufacturing sites -- from Tehran or elsewhere? We shall see. Here is a bit of one account -- from inside Iran -- so take it with some salt (and the only other source is Russian language -- so who can say for certain?):

. . . .A major U.S. pharmaceutical company, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) has signed a contract for the licensed production of medicines in Iran, head of Iran's Drug Importing Union, Nasser Riahi said, ISNA news agency reported on Feb. 25. . . .

"The U.S. MSD which is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world wants to manufacture its products under license in Iran," he said, adding that in order to gain the trust of the Iranian partner, the U.S. company has reduced its product prices by 30 to 40 percent.

Riahi remarked that major Swiss-based multinational drug maker Novartis has started production in Iran and signed a contract. A Japanese company also has signed an agreement for the production of medicines in Iran, he added.

He remarked that the MSD is the first U.S. drug company which has signed a cooperation contract with Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. . . .

We will let you know if/when Whitehouse Station verifies this is -- in fact -- our Merck, and not KGaA.

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