Jaime López de Silanes
The Mexican Pharmaceutical Council (CFM)
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Can COVID-19 Translate to Opportunities for Mexican Healthcare?

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 07/13/2020 - 09:53

Q: How much has CFM’s work been reshaped by the general changes in the sector and overall political climate in the country?

A: Rather than talking about changes, it is more relevant to refer to transexennial strategies, such as innovation. From our perspective and that of our pharmaceutical laboratory members, we have a firm commitment to the country. This refers to the long-term focus on R&D to contribute with more therapeutic innovations for the medical community and for the benefit of the population's health. Along the way, we evaluate and adapt the necessary changes to provide continuity to the constructive relationship with the government. National production is currently among the administration’s priorities, which is very positive.

Q: How have CFM and its members contributed to increasing access to medications and therapies for patients?

A: We work shoulder to shoulder with the academy because we are convinced that generating knowledge will make us advance more quickly in the matter. A clear example is the CFM-UNAM Foundation for Pharmaceutical Innovation Award, which encourages research and academic work to meet the real needs of the industry and to address the health problems in the country. Its goal is also to forge a conduit so that the potential of young people within the pharmaceutical industry can be harnessed. We invite UNAM students and graduates, particularly from the areas of physical mathematical sciences, engineering, biological sciences, chemistry and health. The award financially supports and encourages the three best theses at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels.

Q: What are the main gaps in industrial property (IP) regulation and how could these be addressed to promote faster access to medicines?

A: IP is a right that by law has to protect inventions and provide certainty to those who create them. In this sense, we are collaborating closely with the Senate, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property according to what was agreed under USMCA.

This allows us to guarantee a balanced field of action for both Mexican companies in the sector and for our counterparts in northern countries.

Q: How are your members innovating to attend the growing prevalence of chronic diseases in Mexico?

A: Our companies agree on the practice of innovation backed by international standards. Therefore, we evolve along with what is happening in the pharmaceutical industry worldwide. Biomedicine is a line in which we are already immersed, because it is where the industry is heading. We will continue contributing to bringing doctors closer to patients, as well as providing better treatments that add value to the control and prevention of chronic degenerative diseases.

Q: How does the promotion of R&D initiatives contribute to retaining Mexican talent?

A: Encouraging talent is a path we have taken to strengthen the scope and installed capacity of companies with the knowledge that the academy offers. This is also supported by close collaboration with institutions and the impetus of talent seeking more opportunities to contribute to health solutions and improve the quality of life of the population.

It should be noted that the national pharmaceutical sector, in addition to creating thousands of jobs annually, continuously implements programs to ensure talent is better prepared in their respective areas. We ignite this same dynamism among health professionals. We participate in a global ecosystem, which is why we are also proud to see Mexicans who are now occupying high-level executive roles in multinational companies.

Q: What can Mexico do to start developing more technology and science on healthcare?

A: Globally, the incentives that governments create and offer to pharmaceutical companies are the key to growing technological platforms, R&D and speeding up the process for new medicine development. This is a virtuous cycle that requires the modernization of regulatory processes in institutions to benefit more patients. In this sense, Mexico and its regulatory bodies must be in tune with their global peers.

Q: What measures has CFM taken to address the COVID-19 crisis?

A: We are an essential industry, so it was necessary to raise health and safety protocols and standards at our production plants. Our commitment is to continue supplying products for chronic degenerative diseases like diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Patients with these conditions must follow their treatments properly or their immune system may be compromised, which would put them even more at risk from COVID-19. We are also committed to innovation. Several CFM companies are conducting clinical trials of new products to combat COVID-19, which we hope are successful.

On May 17, 88 intensive care Shangrila 510s ventilators arrived to Mexico from Shanghai, which were jointly acquired by the Mexican pharmaceutical laboratories Silanes, Carnot, Liomont, Sanfer and Chinoin, in alliance with the Carlos Slim and Grupo México foundations. These were donated to the benefit of 11 hospitals and health and charitable institutions that combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This group of companies and foundations was coordinated by CFM, with the support of the INCIDE (Innovation and Science for Business Development) Foundation and following an agreement reached with the IMSS Foundation.

Q: How could API production help Mexico position in the pharmaceutical production market?

A: The country needs strategic mechanisms between the government and the pharmaceutical industry to promote national API production and reduce the dependence on China or India, which together cover around 80 percent of the global API market. Even the US is actively promoting this route, which makes this an ideal time for Mexico, the US and Canada to promote medium and long-term commitments between companies and governments to create certainty for investments.

Q: What is the status of biosimilar production in Mexico and how can this sector be an opportunity for Mexico to grow in the pharmaceutical sector?

A: This sector also requires long-term agreements with the government to guarantee the purchase of products in the medium term at agreed prices and measures to facilitate product registration and release to the market. The government’s role in the regulatory and product acquisition processes is essential.

Q: What lessons have CFM and the local pharmaceutical industry learned from the COVID-19 outbreak?

A: This situation opens areas of opportunity to reduce imports of healing materials, medical devices and other supplies from China by having sustained local production and at competitive prices. Another advantage is USMCA and the US’ vision to break the paradigm of dependence on a single provider. This is a great opportunity for Mexico.

On the other hand, as an industry we are helping health professionals to build a favorable environment for the remote relationship between doctors and patients through telemedicine. Having an updated perspective from the Mexican regulatory authorities will go a long way in creating clear rules and trust among all those involved.

Q: What are your short-term goals for CFM?

A: We want to consolidate our relationship with the government and support its work as a regulatory body so that the Mexican pharmaceutical industry becomes stronger. Maintaining our R&D, science and innovation approach in Mexico over the long term is also key. We want to capitalize on the new conditions offered by USMCA and the agreements established or to be established with the EU. We also have the goal of promoting, together with the academy, support and development programs for Mexican talent.

Finally, we want to establish a link with international regulatory agencies to adopt global standards and to ensure our local regulations are recognized to easily take our products to other latitudes.


The Mexican Pharmaceutical Council (CFM) was created in the late 1990s. Its goal is to promote innovation in health sciences and to strengthen the competitiveness of the pharmaceutical industry in the country.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst