Rafael Maciel
Mexican Association of Generics (AMEGI)
View from the Top

Local Association Looks to Protect Blooming Generics Industry

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:21

Q: What trends are changing the landscape for Mexican pharmaceutical distribution?

A: Medicine distribution in the past depended mainly on large wholesalers, some of whom have disappeared in recent years. Instead, the so-called regional distributors have taken great strength and on the other hand the direct delivery of drug manufacturing laboratories to the large pharmacy chains, as well as to the supermarkets, has also changed distribution in recent years. Regarding to the medicine sales points, large chains and supermarkets are again the ones that grow and, in contrast, independent pharmacies have decreased their participation in a constant way for the last years.

Q: How is the generics market growing and what does it represent at this point?

A: Eighty-five percent of all drugs sold in 2017 in Mexico were generics. According to Knoblock Group, the pharmaceutical sector sold a total of 985.7 million units valued at MX$156 billion (US$8.97 billion) between February 2017 and February 2018. During those 12 months, the generics market grew at a 3.9-percent rate. Although the total pharmaceutical market has approached US$15 billion some time ago, it has now been severely hit by the exchange rate.

Q: How has direct patient demand for generics evolved in recent years?

A: Consumers are much more aware of the benefits of generics and are beginning to request them from their doctors. All generics meet the requirements of quality and efficacy, so if a patient changes from one manufacturer to another the result will be the same. Pharmacy chains usually have two or three suppliers of the same medication and can change it occasionally so patients can find products from different manufacturers.

Q: How has the perception of generics changed among doctors? How can these professionals support the sector?

A: AMEGI informs doctors on the benefits of generics, for which we are developing workshops together with COFEPRIS. For instance, at the beginning of 2018, we launched a workshop on regulations related to the advertising of medicines with the aim of clarifying the doubts that our members may have. Considering COFEPRIS’ experience in the area, the council has allowed authorized parties to begin evaluating advertising materials generated by the pharmaceutical industry. Doctors were initially reluctant to prescribe generic medications, but we have provided them with enough information to change that initial hesitation.

Q: Considering the strong competition in the generics market, how can companies differentiate themselves?

A: Companies can differentiate themselves by continuing to manufacture quality products and present them attractively. Other differentiators can be customer service, providing consumers clear information on the product they are acquiring and teaching salespeople how to properly introduce the product and the benefits these provide to patients.

Q: What are the main international issues that AMEGI is lobbying for?

A: AMEGI is part of International Generic and Biosimilar Association (IGBA) and brings the operational principles from this international organization into Mexico. Canada, the US and Mexico, which are the three pillars of the organization, are concerned about the potential outcome of the NAFTA renegotiation, as current talks have not addressed IP protection, data exclusivity or patent timelines.

We are also participating in other international agreements. With Europe, we are addressing topics concerning IP and other regulations for the CPTPP, which showcases the region’s openness toward Mexico. Monthly meetings of this group allow us to keep on track.