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News Article

IMSS Denies Accusations of Expired Medicines

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 04/19/2022 - 16:14

The Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) has denied that it allegedly let 134 million of medicines and vaccines valued at MX$18 billion (US$897 million) expire during the past three years. Over the same period, IMSS failed to fulfill over 43 million prescriptions, according to the NGO Cero Desabasto.

The medicines expired include 610,000 cancer drugs, “the lack of which has generated a crisis during the current government, since it has caused serious problems for families of children with cancer,” LatinUS reported. Additional expirations include 698,000 units of the tuberculosis vaccine, 63,000 units of the chickenpox vaccine, 43,000 doses of the hepatitis A vaccine, 68,000 units of glatiramer acetate, 4 million units of metformin and 7.11 million doses of paracetamol.

On its report on prescription fulfillment for 2017-2021, Cero Desabasto explained IMSS uses the Institutional Supply System (SAI) to calculate the demand for medicines and monitor the filling of prescriptions both in the state warehouses and in the High Specialty Medical Units (UMAE). Its indicators include prescriptions presented, filled, partial filled and denied, disaggregated monthly.

IMSS has a compensation method for when the institute fails to meet prescriptions called "Your prescription is your voucher," through which a Family Medical Unit (UMF) activate the prescription as a "voucher" when the participating medicine is not available. Thus, within 15 days from the activation of the voucher, patients can go to any FMUs to fill their prescription. However, this service is only available in Mexico City, State of Mexico, the Metropolitan area of Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Queretaro, pushing patients from other states to purchase their drugs elsewhere.

Days after the accusation, IMSS rejected the report by LatinUS, stating that the media outlet “added poorly” and made the accounting error of overvaluing inventories, which was a “common mistake for those who are not familiar with the concept of inventory and the basic fundamentals of accounting.”

According to IMSS, the supposed figure of 134 million expired pieces is a 521 percent over evaluation over the real number. As such, the Institute stated that the monetary loss of MX$18,000 million (US$897 million) reported by LatinUS was false, as the media outlet assumed that every piece expired was a monetary loss, ignoring the administrative systems and mechanisms between providers and the institute to guarantee the replacement of expired medicines with new ones. IMSS assures that through these mechanisms, it had saved MX$254 million (US$12 million). “In 2019, 2020 and 2021, IMSS has supplied 2.72 billion medicines, having an expiring rate of 0.76 percent,” stated IMSS.

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Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst