Marcos Pascual
Commercial Director
View from the Top

Pharmacies an Integral Part of the Healthcare System

Thu, 07/18/2019 - 10:57

Q: How is the pharmaceutical sector evolving following the change in federal administration and how are pharmacies addressing these changes?
A: The entire healthcare ecosystem is going through a transition period due to the change in federal administration. While the healthcare problems present in Mexico during previous administrations continue, the new administration discovered new problems that were unaccounted for. The federal government, through the Federal Superior Audit, discovered a misappropriation of MX$11 billion (US$577 million) of healthcare funds by Seguro Popular and other healthcare service providers. As a result, Mexico’s healthcare system is being restructured.
Mexican pharmaceutical companies are aware of the situation and are highly invested in the definition of these policy changes so the federal government can finish establishing its acquisition strategy. In the mid-2019 tenders introduced by the federal government, about 68 percent of the medications had no bidders, leaving a significant gap of key medications that will affect patients across the country. At this point, the federal government is aiming to develop its own distribution networks, which is leading to uncertainty in the sector because the government does not have the necessary infrastructure. We expect pharmacies with doctors next to the point of sale, of which there are 18,000 in Mexico, to continue offering primary attention. These doctors are writing over 400,000 prescriptions per day and the number will continue growing.
Q: How is technology changing the landscape for pharmacies and which problems and advantages is it generating?
A: Technology will revolutionize medication distribution. At the moment, most authorities do not accept electronic prescriptions but we are pushing for this to change. Electronic clinical files must also be merged across pharmacies to create a single system that can be used by all doctors and points of sale. This system would provide valuable information to all doctors at the point of sale that would allow them to provide better treatment to their patients.
E-commerce platforms, such as Amazon, are also changing the pharmaceutical environment by selling both OTCs and prescription medications. However, Mexican law forbids selling medications that are not regulated by the Federal Health Law. The new administration should develop a regulation that allows for the creation of a competitive environment between physical and online stores. Medicines, due to their complexity, require specialized handling that can only be provided at pharmacies. All medications should be kept at specific temperatures and those who handle medications should be fully aware of their fragility and proper care.
Q: Between 60 and 70 pharmacies open every day. Which pharmacy business model is the most successful?
A: Pharmacies are a key player in medical attention, which has led to the continuous growth of pharmacy chains, such as Farmacias Benavides, Farmacias Guadalajara and Farmacias del Ahorro, which together represent over MX$10 billion (US$524 million) in sales and employ over 40,000 people. All independent pharmacies and pharmacy chains in Mexico generate jobs for over 400,000 individuals. Pharmacy chains deliver the highest growth rates in Mexico. Most of these pharmacies are built in major cities, including Mexico City and its metropolitan area, State of Mexico, Guadalajara and Monterrey.
Q: What trends are you seeing in the market and how can pharmacies better support the healthcare system?
A: The consumer now welcomes doctor consultations at the point of sale, which mostly focus on simple diseases, such as the flu, headaches and stomach problems. We are now heading toward the next stage. Telemedicine can introduce specialized attention for patients by guiding general practitioners through the necessary procedures. Technology can allow greater access to specialists to more individuals, which will be increasingly useful given the rise in chronic-degenerative diseases.