Dr. Dea Herrera
Asociación Farmacéutica Mexicana (AFM)
View from the Top

Bringing Together Academia, Industry and Government

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 12:41

Q: What are the main activities and goals of AFM?

A: We create opportunities for our colleagues and members to gather and exchange knowledge as well as promoting technology transfer. Our expo has been running for 44 years, over which time, it has grown to become the nationwide ExpoFarma that exists today. We also hold an annual National Conference of Pharmaceutical Sciences, which brings together students, academics, industry professionals, and government officials to discuss the direction of the country’s pharmaceutical sector and set future objectives. For 2015 the congress focused on pharmaceutical formulation due to its trend affecting the pharmaceutical industry worldwide. To tackle these problems we invite experts from the US, such as FDA personnel or leading academics, to share their experience with Mexican professionals. Finally, we organize a Healthcare Regulation Summit primarily concerning industry players, who must abide by national regulations of drug manufacture and sale in Mexico. We bring them together with healthcare policy-makers so that they may jointly assess the impact of regulations on the industry and study any amendments or areas of mutual concern. Alongside these major events, AFM offers a range of training courses, covering technical issues that concern the pharmaceutical industry. We also conduct talks, the topics of which evolve each year depending on prevalent industry trends.

Q: What is the traditional profile of AFM’s members?

A: Our members are not companies, but individuals enrolled in pharmaceutical science programs. We also work with experts and professionals from a wide range of industries related to the pharmaceutical sector. Besides our strict membership criteria, we also seek to nurture our influence and outreach by maintaining very close relations with government agencies, such as COFEPRIS. For instance, we organize the Healthcare Regulation Summit jointly with COFEPRIS and CANIFARMA to maximize the scope of our audience and offer a participation incentive to the industry, government, academia, and students.

Q: How do AFM collaborate with academic institutions on research matters?

A: AFM has student chapters in different universities across Mexico, which all have academic advisors. Through these chapters, we stay informed about the curricula of pharmaceutical science courses and provide advice on how to improve or modify them to ensure that students graduate with the widest possible skillsets. Our publication, the Mexican Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, includes scientific articles written by university researchers and provides advice for CONACYT.

Q: What else can be done to further promote pharmaceutical studies in Mexican universities?

A: We need to invest more in education. AFM promotes well- educated and well-trained pharmaceutical professionals as one of the best investments Mexico can make for the future of its healthcare sector. Adequate education will drive the innovation of new medications and technologies in Mexico. AFM also promotes many activities with students as they will be the future leaders of COFEPRIS, other government organizations, and private companies. We want them to realize as early as possible the importance of all these sectors working together to develop Mexico’s healthcare sector. Furthermore, they must understand that education is a continuous process given how quickly pharmaceutical companies evolve.

Q: Why did ExpoFarma 2015 focus on topics such as manufacturing?

A: ExpoFarma revolved around different areas related to pharmaceutical manufacturing, including the production of pharmaceuticals, new technologies to determine the best raw materials, automation of manufacturing solutions, and strategies to analyze each step of the production line. We want to pitch all these ideas to potential clients, such as local laboratories that may not have the resources to carry out research abroad and buy these new technologies.

By exhibiting these technologies at our events, we allow potential clients to realize the benefits of investing in them. As President of AFM, I have a full-time position at the Autonomous University of Morelos where I run a research lab. I prefer to see the piece of equipment working and compare it to competitors’ technologies than simply listening to a technician’s explanation. This ideology pervades all our activities at AFM.