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News Article

Public Institutions Fail to Fill 24 million Prescriptions

By Miriam Bello | Thu, 03/03/2022 - 17:05

Medicine shortages that began in 2019 worsened during 2021, with 24 million prescriptions being left unfilled at public health institutions, found a report by as Cero Desabasto. This is the worst supply shortage that Mexico has seen during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration.

Before the start of President López Obrador’s administration, the year with the largest number of unfilled prescriptions was 2017, with about 3.5 million. However, unfilled prescriptions started to accumulate after the Acquisition Law was changed. In 2019, the unfilled prescriptions climbed to 7.5 million and in 2020 to 18.3 million.

The changes to the Acquisition Law lead the Mexican government and UNOPS to sign a “technical assistance” agreement for the administration and management of projects and the acquisition of goods and services. On July 31, 2021, INSABI and UNOPS signed the “Acquisition of medicines and healing materials” agreement, which empowered the UN-backed organization to carry out the bidding procedures to supply medicines to the Mexican health system between 2021 and 2024.

“We can see that the results [of the changes to the Acquisition Law] have been frankly bad. The processes carried out by UNOPS have also not been positive. The lack of planning has led to these shortages. We have an enviable industry in Mexico, with the capacity to supply the entire market. For instance, 97 percent of allocations given by UNOPS were previously handled by companies established in the country,” said Rafael Gual, Director General, CANIFARMA.

In previous statements, Ministry of Health Jorge Alcocer recognized these shortages but said they were caused by a “wide range of reasons, including China and India, two of the main exporters of pharmaceutical raw materials, decreasing production due to the pandemic.”

Juan Ferrer, Director General, INSABI, also acknowledged the supply problems but claimed that the Institute and UNOPS will continue to maintain open communication channels. “We are in the middle of a large-impact transition that asks for a multi-party commitment, which we have received from the industry. This is a global commitment between UNOPS and INSABI,” Ferrer said.

Karla Báez, Director of Access to Innovation, AMIIF, agreed that the main catalyst to work toward securing medicine supply is for the sector to collaborate through effective, permanent communication channels with the government. “We need planning, clarity of processes, certainty of times and traceability to enable this monitoring of supplies reaching the end goal, which in turn will create a virtuous circle to allow correct, strategic planning,” Báez said.

The country has already purchased 549 million pieces to supply medicines and medical supplies from Jan. to June 2022. The purchase is made up of 548 different medicines and 336 types of medical supplies. Purchases for the second half of 2022 will correspond to 273 types of medical supplies, representing 116 million individual pieces, and 361 different medicines, representing 271 million individual pieces.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst