Domestic Medical Devices Consumption Propels Health, InvestmentBy Miriam Bello | Wed, 04/14/2021 - 13:01
Q: The medical devices manufacturing industry is expected to grow 6.1 percent, globally. How will this increase reflect in Mexico?
A: This growth has been driven by the manufacturing of personal protection equipment. These are high-tech supplies that Mexico is capable of manufacturing, such as specialized face masks. To complement our efforts and boost our manufacturing capacities, AMID has requested a meeting with the minister of economy to attract more final assembly processes to Mexico. To achieve this, Mexico would need to increase is medical devices consumption, as the final assembly is commonly done at the product’s point of sale to avoid damaging the device. One example is ventilators, which are 80 percent manufactured in Mexico. However, the final assembly takes place where the device is sold.
Mexico needs to improve its 43rd ranking in medical devices consumption versus it eighth place standing in production. The solution to this is simple: the government needs to understand the benefits of medical devices and allocate more budget to these solutions. The execution is difficult, however, and AMID has been working on this for several years. Purchasing processes through UNOPS make this goal more complicated because we have unclear schemes and uncertain orders.
Q: Mexico is a large manufacturer of syringes. With COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, how has demand for these disposable devices increased?
A: Traditionally, the acquisition of healing materials, including different types of syringes, was through public tenders that included around 4,500 SKUs the government required. Demand remained quite stable around that number. However, we were surprised to see that the SKUs posted for the latest UNOPS acquisition process totaled only 600. We communicated our concern regarding the drastic decrease from 4,500 to 600 SKUs. Also, we asked how the remaining codes would be covered but we have not received an answer. Prior to this situation, UNOPS hosted a meeting, which was very encouraging. However, there were many subjects left unsolved and unclear, such as the planning of the tenders, which they explained was done through INSABI, while UNOPS was only in charge of fulfilling the request.
Usually, there is a trend in the number of syringes requested by the government through the centralized purchase scheme, which we estimate should have increased at least by 35 percent this year, considering the current vaccination program for COVID-19. With this number, we wanted to be very conservative, but with the missing 3,900 SKUs and the lack of answers from the public sector, this forecast seems to have turned around. We are still waiting for the information of an alternative acquisition or an explanation for this missing supply of syringes that will certainly be needed this year. We need this information to begin redirecting our efforts in case the acquisition has been covered by the government. If that is the case, we would begin exporting the syringes we have because the national demand would be covered. Many AMID members are multinational companies, so export requests for this device are already on our doorstep.
We had the same problem with ventilators last year, when many health systems globally had to respond to the growing peak of contagion and severe COVID-19 cases. During this period, we waited for the government to request ventilators but the industry could not wait forever. It was in our best interest to supply the local government first and we did approach officials. However, we received no answer until months after.
Q: How does the medical devices sector contribute to the value-based healthcare model?
A: This is a priority for AMID and we have experts on the subject working with us. Putting the patient at the center of our work guarantees quality, efficiency, innovation and cost-effectiveness in the development and manufacturing of medical devices. However, medical devices are sometimes not accessible to all segments of the population. Value-based healthcare models are a way to break this barrier and provide patients with access to innovative solutions.
Many times, what guarantees the purchase of a medical device is the price, when it should be the benefit it provides to the patient. At AMID, we are in favor of free competition. However, without putting the patient at the center of our operations, we will not be able to close this virtuous circle. Aside from the benefits it provides to patients and health systems, value-based healthcare foments innovation.
Prior to the pandemic, AMID began a research partnership with IMSS that was focused on compiling real-world evidence. We want to prove that through the use of medical devices at public hospitals, we could generate better outcomes for the patient while also fomenting innovation. I am hoping we can resume our research this year and be able to measure the outcomes and the benefits of medical devices in this model.
Q: How are you working to strengthening the Mexico-US relationship, given that US President Joe Biden has expressed his desire to strengthen US supply chains?
A: We are looking forward to strengthening the good relationship we have with the US regarding medical devices. We want to attract more investment to Mexico to continue manufacturing for foreign companies. Moreover, we want to pour that investment into local medical devices companies. Mexico’s manufacturing capacities and good practices are among our most valuable assets in this sector. Devices like heart valves are handmade with such quality and detail that it is hard to deny the level of our production.
Mexico is also working toward sustainable practices, gender equality and competitive salaries. Companies are taking care of their talent and of their environment to remain a top choice.
Q: COFEPRIS recently named Alejandro Svarch as its new Commissioner. What has been his approach to the industry?
A: AMID President Alejandro Paolini met with Svarch, which was very positive. The communication channel with the new Commissioner is different. We had been hoping for a conversation with the previous Commissioner, Novelo Baeza, but we were never successful. Within a couple of weeks of his appointment, Commissioner Svarch has shown a positive disposition to listen to the industry’s concerns. This is only a first step but it gives us more certainty than what we had in the past. AMID will make sure to stand for the needs and concerns of our industry through common agreements with the authorities.
Q: AMID developed a care protocol alongside the pharmaceutical industry to ensure treatment continuity for non-COVID-19 patients. How can alliances like this become a standard for care in the country?
A: This first effort among private players to ensure treatment continuity was a way to demonstrate our strength through solutions for our patients. We are interested in promoting this effort among private hospitals, which are collaborating with the government, to reflect the transformational impact that a medical device can have in a hospital and among a group of patients. This also impacts insurers and creates a virtuous circle in the private health system. For AMID, sharing technical information among private players regarding hospital environments would be very valuable. We are convinced that these collaborations would bring us a step closer to value-based healthcare models, as this involves every actor in the sector.
Ethics is another key value for AMID and its members and it is tied to good practices. We are aware that a close and respectful relationship with medical professionals is critical to introducing our developments to the industry. For this reason, AMID is reviewing its interaction frameworks and introducing regulation for the new digital practices that had to be adopted due to COVID-19. We are adding to this ethics code new online training guidelines and we will continue offering our yearly training programs for commercial intermediaries.
The Mexican Association of Innovative Medical Devices Industries (AMID) gathers global leaders in innovation of medical devices and diagnostic systems to work toward the advancement of health services in Mexico.