Seeking to ensure that Swiss-based companies in the food, pharmaceutical, and medical industries can sell their products to the Islamic Republic without getting in the U.S. Treasury' crosshairs the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA) came into existence. It offers firms a secure channel with a Swiss bank guaranteeing the payments for the exports, the Swiss government said.
The U.S. Treasury said the channel is "subject to strict due diligence measures to avoid misuse by the Iranian regime."
Cancer and organ transplant patients will be the first to benefit from the new system.
U.S. economic sanctions have ruined Iran's economy, raised the price of basic food, and led to shortages of medicines, including life-saving ones. Tens of millions of Iranians are currently struggling with the damages.
U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and vowed to apply a "maximum pressure" on the government in Tehran.
Washington's harsh campaign against Iran led to the imposition of drastic sanctions on the country's oil and banking sectors and wholly isolated the country within the global economy.
Although vital goods such as food, medicine, and medical devices are supposedly exempt from U.S. sanctions, fear of coming into conflict with Washington has deterred many banks from doing any business - including humanitarian deals - with the Persian country.
"The consequences of redoubled U.S. sanctions, whether intentional or not, pose a serious threat to Iranians' right to health and access to essential medicines - and has almost certainly contributed to documented shortages - ranging from a lack of critical drugs for epilepsy patients to limited chemotherapy medications for Iranians with cancer," a report released in October by Human Rights Watch said.
The country has also suffered devastating floods last year that left about two million people in need of humanitarian aid. The Iranian Red Crescent Society reported that sanctions had impeded Iran's relief efforts, including receiving financial assistance for the victims.
The launching of the SHTA outpaced the long-awaited Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), a mechanism the E3 (France, Britain, and Germany) tried to facilitate trade with Iran despite the U.S. sanctions.
INSTEX is a small part of Europe's long-delayed commitment to counterbalance for the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal. It was supposed to end anti-Iran sanctions in exchange for certain curbs in the country's nuclear program.