Antonio Pascual
View from the Top

Pharmacies: Safe Access to Health

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 09:42

Q: What main challenges in terms of administration are pharmacies facing right now?

A: There are 45,000 outlets, including pharmacies and convenience stores, that sell over-the-counter drugs and 30,000 pharmacies, including chains, self-service and SMEs. ANAFARMEX is pushing for a new model that strengthens SME pharmacies or community pharmacies so that the network is composed mainly of this type of business, as it is in Europe. In Mexico, we follow the American model, which is vertical and employs a large inventory but with little rationality at the sales point. The pharmacy is a service that provides drugs to the population and the European model accomplishes this because in SME pharmacies, 80 percent of the inventory is pharmaceutical while the remaining 20 percent is of another variety. In the American model, 30 percent of the products at supermarket pharmacies are pharmaceutical, while the remaining 70 percent are not.

Q: What is ANAFARMEX’s main priority?

A: We want to claim the role of pharmacies in dispensation. The WHO has proposed that all countries achieve better product management. To that end, Mexican authorities are working to certify pharmacy operators. We provide performance ratings based on CONOCER’s Competency Standard 468, which addresses the dispensation of drugs and health-related products at pharmacies. Through an agreement with the Ministry of Public Education and the Ministry of Health, we provide pharmacy employees with training from the Integral System for Training on Dispensing (SICAD), COFEPRIS and CONOCER. In the future, we hope that when customers enter a pharmacy of any type, they will see a sanitary or operating license, which lets them know there is a certified operator on site. Right now, only 30 percent of operators are certified.

Q: Medical consultations and branded generics are now available at pharmacies. What challenges and opportunities does this represent?

A: Fifty percent of the country’s 30,000 pharmacy outlets now have Pharmacy Anexed Consultories (CAF), where there are around 10 million consultations per month, more than ISSSTE provides in the same period. However, it is important that the doctors in these offices are trained. With generics, pharmacies need to be clear about what is said regarding these products. We must avoid the conflicts of interest that arise through prescription substitution.

Q: What can be done to promote local businesses over their larger counterparts?

A: The quality of service is fundamental. If there is no quality service or certified staff related to those investments, the projects will be small. A prescription must be treated as an official document and free access to drugs must be supported with advice from the operator. The price factor is also affecting SME pharmacies, so the challenge is to reduce that gap between supermarkets and chain pharmacies. COFECE has been researching noncompetitive business practices and hopefully in the future these will decrease.

Q: There are products that have been withdrawn from the foreign market but are still sold in Mexico. What can be done?

A: Mexican pharmacies were not submitting pharmacovigilance reports but after the WHO started demanding these reports, certified pharmacy operators became obligated to do them. We also need to reinforce the importance of the patient report. These new responsibilities brought by the new regulations will help authorities decide when to remove a drug.

Q: How does ANAFARMEX contribute to the eradication of illegal products in the pharmaceutical market?

A: The WHO says that 10 percent of everything commercialized in the market comes from illegal sources. Fortunately, in Mexico the figure is 1.5 percent. We recommend that when consumers purchase products, they verify that the provider is a reliable company that has the official document of recognition as a distributor issued by the Ministry of Public Education (SEP). ANAFARMEX has a permanent committee focused on the illicit market.