Pushing for Cooperation Between the Public and Private SectorsBy Miriam Bello | Wed, 08/12/2020 - 09:52
Q: How is AMELAF helping to shape and grow the Mexican pharmaceutical industry?
A: AMELAF represents 44 national laboratories with 100 percent Mexican investment, having 63 plants that comply with COFEPRIS’ standards and working to the highest international pharmaceutical standards. We encourage COFEPRIS to visit those plants to ensure the quality work of our laboratories. This sector is a direct employer of at least 90,000 people and generates 400,000 indirect jobs in Mexico.
AMELAF’s focus is to boost competition among national laboratories. We are in charge of distributing almost three-fourths of the medicine that the public sector requires, charging only a third of what these medicines really cost. We are interested in defending and representing the national pharmaceutical industry before the government, which is our main client and regulator. AMELAF builds communication bridges between companies and the government. We promote dialogue and participation so both parties can fulfil their interests while generating a positive impact on society. At the end on the day, companies and the government have the same interest to contribute to the Mexican healthcare sector and to promote well-being.
Q: How is AMELAF connecting to public institutions and supporting its members during this complex period?
A: AMELAF’s main focus is on the centralized purchasing system, which was recently implemented to address the areas of opportunity in the old purchasing system. The main flaw I saw with the old system was the distribution of the budget rather than of the medicine itself. The new system combats the misuse of resources, which is a very assertive measure and will benefit the healthcare sector. However, the way it was implemented was abrupt and generated issues that could have been avoided with proper timing. It is worth mentioning that there was no such thing as a monopolistic sale. Seventy laboratories sold to three distributors, which generated the receipt for the government. That ended up looking like a monopolistic practice. Laboratories had the option of working directly with the government but it was less complicated to work through a distributor.
What the pharmaceutical industry wants is clarity regarding demand and work hours. Mexico and its current national contractors have the capacity to fully supply the government’s requirements. Holding an open international tender was a step that could have been avoided because, aside from all the legal procedures, the purchase could be dangerous if not done under the same regulatory measures that COFEPRIS establishes, not to mention that it is unfair to national companies that do follow the national acquisition law.
The government backed up its decision by saying WHO validated those medicines, which is not entirely true. WHO allows the entrance of those medicines to underdeveloped countries or in cases of a crisis or emergency, which is not the case for Mexico. We are not facing a shortage; the Mexican pharmaceutical industry has the capacity to cover those gaps but has no certainty from the government. We depend on what the public sector requires and if there is no clarity, the result is that medications cannot be manufactured on time, leading to shortages.
Q: What would AMELAF like to see from the public sector?
A: AMELAF is very conscious and satisfied with the actions that COFEPRIS has taken to combat and eradicate corruption. However, we cannot stop work for a year and half and expect good results from that. Within this scenario, our main concern is the lack of openness by the government and COFEPRIS to have a dialogue with any other entity that is not governmental.
AMELAF’s main priority is to have this open dialogue with the public sector and to have clarity regarding demand so we can plan production and avoid chaos for all parties. We want to defend our national industry to help it grow and to maintain the level of high-quality jobs we offer. This implies promoting national companies during the decision-making process related to purchases so clients do not focus solely on price.
AMELAF has proposed to the Tax Administration Service a multiyear supply plan to cover the healthcare sector’s needs in an orderly way. The plan contemplates clear schemes that also consider inflation. We are still lobbying to implement this plan but the barriers to communication have been our main challenge. Approaching the government is not the problem; the issue is with whom to hold a discussion about these topics.
Another priority for AMELAF is to address the time frame for industrial protections. We respect patent protection. Our issue is when companies try to lengthen this restriction, which also leads to increases in costs that end up being shouldered mostly by the patient.
Q: How would you describe the status of the Mexican pharmaceutical industry?
A: I am concerned about the situation that the healthcare sector is facing. Uncertainty reigns as a result of the lack of openness and communication that is preventing us from shaping a clearer future together with the government. AMELAF is trying to push for cooperation between the private and public sectors, as we are very aware that we need each other to achieve growth. The private sector is always looking forward in search of growth. As a result of the uncertainty in the sector, the industry might stagnate because no one has the confidence to invest right now.
We remain optimistic about finding a communication channel with the public sector, which would be fruitful for both parties and result in long-term benefits. AMELAF is eager to establish a working relationship with the government and we do hope to see the same disposition in return.
The Mexican Association of Pharmaceutical Laboratories (AMELAF) is integrated by Mexican laboratories focused on manufacturing quality, safe, effective and accessible generic and biogenetic medicines for the Mexican population