Hezbollah is taking advantage of the economic situation by purchasing pharmacies for the purpose of taking over the Lebanese pharmaceutical market, thus establishing an additional source of income for the Shiite axis as a response to sanctions, through the distribution of black market pharmaceuticals:
Hezbollah appears to be taking advantage of the economic crisis due to the Corona virus waging a procurement campaign on pharmacies that have gone bankrupt. The focus of this procurement campaign exists in the areas of southern Lebanon, the Beqaa and Beirut, where a large Shiite population resides.
According to the al-Janoubia website, Shiite businesspersons affiliated to Hezbollah make the purchases themselves. After the purchase, the names of the owners and signs on the pharmacies remained as they previously were, however, the buyers renovated the premises, brought in new staff equipping them with a large stock of medicines. The acquired pharmacies continue to provide medicines to all patients, even at the height of the crisis and the shortage of medicines that has existed in Lebanon in recent months.
For example, Youssef Fneish, brother of a former minister and Hezbollah MP, Muhammad Fneish, purchases and seizes possession over medicines and pharmacy warehouses. Some years ago Fneish was accused of selling expired cancer treatment medicines, causing the deaths of dozens of people. Fneish possesses warehouses containing Iranian medicines banned from the Lebanese market due to the fact they lack international medical approvals permitting their distribution. (Source: 24.ae)
It is estimated that Hezbollah is interested in taking over the medicinal black market in order to distribute illegal medicines via its pharmacies to the entire Lebanese public in forged boxes of medicine that appear as foreign manufactured medications. The majority of the illegal medicines come from Iran but also from Egypt, Iraq and Syria (In his speech of July 7, 2020, Nasrallah stated that Iran has an exceptionally developed medicinal industry and among other things, it manufactures and exports medicines. However, Nasrallah failed to state that these are usually illegal and unapproved by international standard medicines…) while at the same time, Hezbollah is taking possession of the authentic and approved foreign medicines, keeping them solely for the use of its activists and their families. Thus, Hezbollah is taking over the Lebanese pharmaceutical market, harming the exclusive drug distribution agencies, owned by those who oppose Hezbollah, and in addition, establishing another channel of income in response to sanctions at the expense of the Lebanese public health.
In conclusion, in such a move Hezbollah only benefits; It creates itself (and its Iranian patron), another source of income reducing the economic damage caused by the sanctions while increasing its hold on the Lebanese economy. It increases the potential harm to its opponents, both economically and health-wise, while retaining the ability to provide quality and independent medical care to its activists and associates (at the expense of the public).