Pharmacy-Adjacent Consultations Deserve Proper RecognitionBy Miriam Bello | Wed, 07/29/2020 - 09:23
Q: What makes ANADIM the best partner for medical distributors?
A: ANADIM is an active bridge between affiliates and the authorities. We are an association driven by social well-being. Even during the pandemic, we have ensured medicine supply and avoided disruptive shortages. ANADIM has been quick to respond to our affiliates in finding solutions when facing any lack of products. However, it is also important to understand that, especially now, demand is unpredictable.
Q: What challenges did ANADIM affiliates face due to COVID-19?
A: Sales of medications have shifted entirely. In March, the market grew almost 21 percent compared to the same month last year. We believe this was due to panic purchasing as customers looked for products to feel safer and to be prepared to face the new disease. Demand for certain products in particular grew significantly, such as vitamins and those for the care of chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension. This was the month with the highest growth in at least 10 years. Other products such as hydroxychloroquine, which is commonly used to treat lupus, grew exponentially after US President Donald Trump publicly stated his use of the drug to prevent COVID-19.
In April and May, medicine sales dropped 5.2 and 1.8 percent, respectively compared to the same months in 2019. Between March and April, we also observed a clear correlation between sales and the number of COVID-19 cases. For example, Mexico City, Sinaloa and Baja California were among the first entities registering a high number of cases and this led private pharmacies to grow 18, 12 and 7 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Guanajuato, which had a lower average of cases per capita, saw sales decrease by 21, 17 and 7, respectively. In tourism states like Quintana Roo, the contraction hit 38 percent.
The highest growth for medicine purchases was at supermarkets, which saw increases of 8 percent in March and April, and at independent pharmacies, with 9.4 percent. The sales growth at supermarkets is mainly attributed to clients preferring to make as many purchases as possible in one go, while independent pharmacies benefited from their proximity to the client and their flexibility in terms of deliveries.
It is also worth mentioning that sales dropped significantly for other products, such as antacids, which during March and April fell 26.5 percent. Sales of antibiotics decreased 19 percent and gastrointestinal products fell by almost 10 percent.
Many of our affiliates offer products other than medications, which also had an impact on their results. Demand for hygiene and sanitization products increased, while dermatological products like sunscreen or make-up, which saw sales peak during Easter week 2019, experienced a double-digit drop in March and April 2020 compared to the same months in 2019.
Another challenge that our affiliates faced during the pandemic was the change in habits as a result of lockdowns and isolation. Home deliveries doubled, which led pharmacy chains to implement strategies to expand their home delivery capacity and forced independent pharmacies to find ways to incorporate the service. Consultations at pharmacy-adjacent offices fell 50 percent, as people preferred to go to the doctor only when they perceived their condition was serious. The same thing happened at private hospitals where doctors preferred to provide follow-ups for their patients over the phone and postponed nonessential interventions.
Q: How has the association supported its affiliates through these changes?
A: ANADIM has tried to help its affiliates by supporting their operations while protecting patients. The association has also issued demand forecasts for the coming months to help companies stock up and prepare for future demand.
The National Normative Committee of General Medicine (CONAMEGE) and ANADIM created an specific training for our affiliates on how to approach COVID-19. Through online courses provided by the Center for International Health Studies of the University of Valencia, Spain (CEISAL), we offered training for doctors supported by international guidelines, since the University of Valencia is registered with the European Scientific Community. When the Mexico City government later called for general training for all pharmacy doctors in the city, ANADIM’s doctors already had the knowledge needed. However, the government’s initiatives enabled pharmacies to get oximeters to detect any disruption in a patient’s health.
Q: Aside from COVID-19, what has been the major challenge that ANADIM has faced as a representative of medicine distributors?
A: The biggest challenge is for pharmacy-adjacent offices to be properly recognized. These offices offer three main benefits. First, through these consultations, the country has a more robust primary healthcare network to support the public system thanks to the proximity of pharmacies and their availability in almost any point in the country. Second, these consultations, as well as prescriptions, are accessible to the patient. Third, they are quality services comparable to any other consultation.
Gaining proper recognition for these medical consultations is a priority for ANADIM, which is why we have established a code of ethics for all pharmacy affiliates to regulate the doctor-patient and doctor-pharmacy relationship and that between the doctor and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure freedom of prescription.
This ethics code has not yet been launched due to the pandemic but we hope to present it soon. Healthcare authorities have collaborated with us in drafting this code. This will be a great step for the association and its affiliates.
The National Association of Medicine Distributors (ANADIM) brings together wholesalers and distributors of pharmaceutical products in Mexico. ANADIM focuses on the development of retail trade, stimulating and promoting business opportunities for each of its affiliated companies