Health Sector's Essential Role in Mexico's FutureBy Jan Hogewoning | Wed, 01/27/2021 - 12:15
At this year's Mexico Health Summit, panelists agreed that the national health sector has made great advances in preparing for the future. However, collaboration, particularly coming from the government, is key. On Wednesday, Jan. 27, Juan de Villafranca, Executive Director of AMELAF, kickstarted the panel 'The Mexican Health Sector in the National Economy' by asking what role the sector plays in the national economy.
Arturo Morales, Corporate Affairs Director at Landsteiner, pointed out that the sector was declared strategic in 2018. Unfortunately, this had not been reflected in support and communication from the government, particularly from the Ministry of Economy. Morales pointed out that the sector makes up for about 3 percent of the GDP and provides 100,000 direct jobs and more than 300,000 indirect jobs. Moreover, the sector is essential to provide the constitutional right of access to healthcare. “Having national research and manufacturing is key to ensure that Mexico is not dependent on other countries to provide quality medicine in a timely manner to the population,” said Morales.
When talking about how the latest technology was helping to position Mexico as a global reference, Deyanira Chiñas, President of the National College of Pharmaceutical Biologists of Mexico and Commercial Director of T5DC, pointed out how the industry has evolved over the years, learning key lessons about critical processes in manufacturing and supply, while also designing key pharmaco-vigilance standards. “The country is making important advances in personalized treatment and medication for personalized health conditions,” she said. The achievements of the national sector are so significant, she stated, that international companies have flocked to adopt many of these techniques.
Carlos López Patán, Director General of Medix, lauded the achievements of both transnational and national companies in Mexico. However, he stated that Mexico needs to strengthen clinical research and take advantage of the incredible talent that is has developed over the years. “Tech should be enabled, so doctors and laboratories can be part of a virtual chain that uses artificial intelligence to not only develop medicine but also create a more accurate profile of patients,” he stated.
Luis Verduzco, Director General of Gelpharma, recognized that technology is key to making medicine more effective, leading to less adverse effects and lower total costs. He pointed to the benefits of genetic medicine and virtual simulators that run on artificial intelligence algorithms to create more personalized therapies. He emphasized the need for greater exchange between authorities, academic institutions and the private sector.
Morales said that ultimately, efforts have to be coordinated by the government while being executed together with the private industry. “The industry has to keep doing what it is doing, investing in innovation and in people,” he said. He believes that the new minister of economy will be more open to this kind of collaboration. In this sense, the next four years will be key to define the industry’s future.
How did COVID-19 change the dynamic?
Fernando Riedel, CEO of SBL Pharmaceuticals, confirmed that especially during this pandemic, many important collaborations have emerged between companies, associations, hospitals and the government, that could be scaled to other health areas. Verduzco pointed at opportunities to innovate in areas where COVID-19 might have long-term effects, such as heart conditions and immune systems. Chiñas highlighted team of 18 researchers from different institutions that were tasked with developing a vaccine. However, she said these could not advance due to a lack of resources. That being said, the crisis has driven pharmaceutical companies to work closer with hospitals and doctors at the frontline of the pandemic. It has also reinvigorated pharmacovigilance activities on the adverse effects of treatments against the virus. To Morales, the pandemic has demonstrated the necessity of open doors to the government, to stimulate research and development of the industry. After all, Morales states: “we are not enemies but a single team.”