News Article

The Implications Behind Purchasing Medicines Anywhere

By Ricardo Guzman | Thu, 01/30/2020 - 18:30

Allowing the importation of medicines without prior registration with the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) puts the Mexican health sector at risk and will eventually affect the domestic industry, the National Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (CANIFARMA) has warned.

An “express decree” recently published in the Federal Official Gazette allows the federal government to purchase medicines anywhere in the world. This major change in the government’s health policy was decided as part of the fight against corruption and to prevent shortages of medications.

Companies established in Mexico are required to comply with a series of strict conditions so they can have a sanitary registration, but now we have our doors open for any product to get into the Mexican market, CANIFARMA Head Rafael Gual Cosío warned. “This is worrying for the safety of patients and for the industry,” he said.

The decree establishes that health authorities may buy and import medicines regardless of whether they have a medical record in Mexico. In previous years, the Health Ministry endorsed US, Australia, Switzerland, Canada and the European Union’s technical procedures.

Now the agreement expands to the Pre-classification Program for Medicines and Vaccines of the World Health Organization (WHO), and to the regulatory agencies of the Pharmaceutical Inspection Cooperation Scheme, known as PIC/S, whose members include Turkey, South Africa, Argentina, Ukraine, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea.

Since last year, the Mexican health sector has suffered shortages of medicines and vaccines. The most serious case was methotrexate, which is used for chemotherapies and was imported from France.

Despite the federal government’s efforts to tackle corruption in the processing purchase, opposition leaders said there are other ways to improve the transparency of the state’s budget management, which was pointed to as the main factor behind wrongful practices. Consolidated purchases are the remedy the federal administration has chosen to implement to control the state’s expenditure.

Reforma columnist Sergio Sarmiento said petty investigations and strict procedures have impacted companies in Mexico and led to them being unable to provide their services. Sarmiento lamented the lack of proof provided by the federal government for the  accusations of corruption against pharmaceutical companies.

Related to President López Obrador Administration’s health policies and on the eve of the National Institute of Health for Welfare (Insabi) registration, specialists warned of the risks of centralizing health services. “This centralization will cause operational problems and violate a federal agreement”, Octavio Gómez, researcher at the National Institute of Public Health told Reforma.

Ricardo Guzman Ricardo Guzman Editor