SFP Bans Five Companies Banned from Public TendersBy Rodrigo Andrade | Fri, 08/26/2022 - 14:05
The Ministry of Public Administration (SFP) announced the disqualification of five companies from receiving government contracts for the next seven years due to monopolistic practices in the health sector, especially in the clinical laboratory studies and blood banks.
The announcement was made in the Official Journal of the Federation (DOF), which states that the companies have been dividing zones and fixing prices while bidding for 37 contracts for 469 million clinical analyses since 2016. The initial investigation was done through the Federal Commission of Economic Competition (COFECE). While these businesses operate mainly in the healthcare sector, they will be disqualified for any type of collaboration with the Mexican Federal Government for the seven years.
In 2020, COFECE accused the companies of “absolute monopolistic practices, sanctioned by the Federal Economic Competition Law, through arrangements and exchanges of information between competing economic agents, with the purpose and/or effect of coordinating bids in public bids,” reports El Economista. However, COFECE cannot ban companies from public tenders, so the SFP disqualified them two years later.
The sanctioned companies are: Valtrum, Internacional Impromed, Centrum Promotora, Equipos Falcón and Selecciones Médicas. They will not be able to participate directly or indirectly in contracts with any public institution according to section VII, Article 3 of the Federal Anti-Corruption Law in Public Contracting. In 2020, the COFECE stated that there were between 14 people and 11 businesses with multiple contracts from the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the Institute of Security and Social Services for State Workers (ISSSTE) between 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2015.
It is unclear how the ban will affect the functioning of clinical laboratory studies and blood banks in the public sector, which is already facing shortages. “One of the most concerning problems is the neglect of public health programs in Mexico as good initiatives were paused to achieve the universal care project, which has been unsuccessful so far and caused medicine and supply shortages,” said Andrés Castañeda, Health and Wellness Coordinator, Nosotrxs, to MBN.
Gaps in medical services affect the entire country, but especially lower-income families that might be unable to afford private healthcare. “Private expenditure in healthcare increased by 40 percent due to the decrease of public services, which has a much greater impact on lower-income households. The decrease in public expenditure impacts out-of-pocket expenses and the health of citizens, putting their lives at risk when they do not have access to these resources,” said Judith Méndez, Associate Research Director, The Economic and Budget Research Center (CIEP) to MBN.