Cristóbal Thompson
Executive Director
View from the Top

R&D Leads to Sustained, Inclusive Growth

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 10:56

Q: What are AMIIF’s near-term priorities?
A: AMIIF delimited a strategic plan in 2014 and though we continue to make small adjustments, we have three defined axes: boosting access to innovation, optimizing the impact innovation has on social development and well-being and incorporating social issues into AMIIF’s agenda. Creating more benefits for patients through pharmaceutical innovation has been our priority but we have a debt to society that can only be met by incorporating social issues into our agenda.
We are participating in one of the president’s flagship programs, Jóvenes Construyendo el Futuro (Young People Building the Future), which targets people between 18 and 29 years of age who were neither working nor studying. We are proud to say that 35 of the first 200 companies that joined the program were AMIIF members. We believe this is an exceptional initiative and we have even been recognized by CCE for the support and enthusiasm we bring to the program.
We are also working on programs that improve access to health services, exemplified by our work at the Esquipulas clinic. This is a primary attention facility that provides services to the indigenous population in Chiapas. The idea is to implement this successful experience of providing medical attention to vulnerable populations in other areas of the country. As part of CCE’s commitment to help the president tackle extreme poverty, we have also reached out to CONEVAL to analyze the places where this vulnerable population is located and the possible actions we could take to eliminate the conditions that generate poverty. This is a CCE initiative but we want to participate in areas where we can provide more support. It is challenging but we definitely have to be a part of it, even though our participation might not be necessarily related to the pharmaceutical industry.
Q: How is AMIIF’s work in clinical research helping Mexico reach the Top 10 in R&D globally?
A: When AMIIF was created in 1950, life expectancy in the country was 49.7 years; today, we live, on average, for 75.4 years. This increase in life expectancy can be linked to the impact of vaccinations, antibiotics and other types of medications. OECD-member countries normally have higher health expenditures and a higher life expectancy of 80 years, such as Switzerland, Spain or Japan.
We believe there is a great opportunity to introduce more innovation and foster the development of medicines in Mexico. For instance, when a new cancer drug is approved by the FDA, it takes COFEPRIS 56 months in average to approve it for use in Mexico. Canadians take two and a half years, while the average for the OECD is 18 months. Being able to provide this early access is fundamental.
Q: What will be the government’s role in promoting clinical research?
A: We hope public investment in health grows to 1 percent of GDP during this federal administration, as was promised during López Obrador’s campaign. Although we understand it will not be easy, it is important to do it and we hope to see this increase reflected in the next federal budget starting in 2020. Annually, the industry invests US$141 billion in clinical research. The Top 15 companies in the market invest around US$100 billion of that amount. The industry still has the potential to attract significant investment to the country. Moreover, every job generated in clinical research generates 4.4 indirect jobs, which means that this sector generates an economy in itself. Every additional peso invested in clinical research generates MX$1.67 in revenue. In Mexico, AMIIF’s members invest a little over US$300 million, which is a low number and even though we could double it, US$600 million would still be insufficient.
Mexico needs to venture into research and attract more investment. To foster this, there are legislative changes we could make as a country. For instance, Argentina just passed a law that states that any clinical study petition is automatically approved if it has not been resolved after 30 days. Brazil is also working to accelerate clinical studies.