Viviana Linares
Excecutive Director
Mexican Pharmaceutical Council (CFM)
View from the Top

Production Strength Key to Ensure Health

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 11:05

Q: What will be CFM's role in President López Obrador’s plan for the pharmaceutical sector?
A: The industry has grown at a significant rate of 6.9 percent between 2017 and 2018. Overall, we see a solid outlook. Mexican laboratories have understood the needs of both doctors and patients, continuously adapting their production to changing demand. The market is still diversifying, growing in number of actors and products.  Pharmaceutical players are an important driver for quality employment, generating more than 86,000 jobs and CFM associates account for over 12 percent of the total employment in the sector.
It is going to take some time to understand the intentions and implications of President López Obrador’s policies. However, the health of the population and demand for particular treatments depend on a greater context. All the decisions taken in this industry are based on a long-term vision ranging from five to 20 years. The change in the federal government is simply an extra ingredient in the mix.
Q: What is your view on the government’s intention to strengthen universal healthcare?
A: Ideally, we should live in a society where health is a common service and treatments are readily available. If the most vulnerable segments of the population can have access to free quality healthcare, that would be utopia by any government’s standards. Although we focus mostly on the private market, we do our part in paving the road toward universal healthcare. The government has signaled it wants more transparency in the sector and our associates have responded by showing what their production is and what their sales are. Our objective remains to introduce quality and fairly priced medications to the private market. Ultimately, this is geared toward the long-term ideal of increasing Mexico’s pharmaceutical production capacity. Prioritizing its national industry can help a country secure its population’s health. Although many countries do not meet the necessary criteria to achieve this, Mexico does, thanks to the size of its population, its qualified workforce and innovative industry.
Q: Last year you said increasing access to APIs was a way to increase access to medication. Is this true also for Mexico?
A: APIs are a challenge because of their high dependence on economies of scale. Without a certain level of production, it is almost impossible to compete with more experienced countries where there is large production of these substances. Over the years, India, China and South Korea have implemented large-scale investments to become international players in this sector. There are individual API producers in Mexico, but they have to be selective about what products they make.
At CFM, we try to establish communication between industry authorities and research centers to align production goals and to overcome obstacles in substances procurement. The industry needs commonly agreed purchasing mechanisms so laboratories can have the confidence to invest. Nonetheless, in Mexico there are very clear examples of strong products. We have innovated in vaccines, which has led to interesting developments with potentially big impact. The only limitation is that the government is the only buyer. There are also many biosimilars, which have adapted to patients’ needs and grown in production. Lastly, the country has produced significant innovations in medical technology. These developments have attracted attention and have incentivized exports to other Latin American countries, as well as the US and the EU.
Q: What other goals does CFM have for 2019?
A: First, we think doctors need to regain recognition as crucial agents in the population’s health. With so much information available on the internet, many patients have mistakenly taken the decision to self-medicate, which is very risky. Particularly when it comes to specialized medication, doctors have the right knowledge. People should go back to the dynamic of consulting a doctor and following their prescription. Our second goal is to further strengthen COFEPRIS. This is essential to provide laboratories with certainty in terms of regulations and to maintain standards of quality in the industry.