Juan Tamayo
Mexican Committee for the Prevention of Osteoporosis (COMOP)
View from the Top

Stronger, Taller, Healthier

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 15:28

Q: How has your unique collaboration with the WHO led to results for your company?

A: We launched the Niños y Adolecentes +Fuertes, +Altos, +Sanos program to prevent osteoporosis from the womb onward. This has given us an enormous amount of data, and parents appreciate seeing how their children are growing. We do all of this to make children strong, tall and healthy. This program has led us to collaborate with many organizations such as Danone and Save the Children, and we are working with Mexico’s Infantile System Telethon and with Save the Children, with the Primary School of the State of Mexico and the Center of Medicine, Physical Activity, and Sports of the UAEM. The program generates much interest. Three years ago we began the Oseograph, a patented method that uses a series of data to produce a graph showing people the state of their bones.

Q: How have your operations evolved from a non-profit into a private entity?

A: We began as an NGO in 1994, such that all the patrimony of COMOP is property of the nation. This poses several difficulties for growth and interaction with stakeholders. Certain players in the health sector preferred to interact with private enterprises so we created Osteosol in 2000. This company invited a group of eight members, four of whom were from the pharmaceutical industry, and four were investors. This was our first operational health business model focused on obtaining quality outcomes for citizens. We modified our offices to be able to receive walk-in patients. Compiling a database was a good experience bearing in mind that we did not have laptops, smartphones, or tablets back then. It allowed us to expand on what we could do as an NGO. We have had international reach since COMOP joined the International Osteoporosis Foundation in 1999 but our experience from 2000-2012 contrasted greatly with the financial expectations we had. We saw the world of health fluctuate. Today, bone diseases are recognized as dangerous for public health and the health sector.

Through Osteosol, we researched the effects of weak bones on the nation and have since turned to the treatment side. In 2012, we had explored all the areas that interested us so we closed it down and opened Accessalud. What has survived since 1994 is the NGO, COMOP. The organization turned to clinical research and Osteosol expanded its focus on chronic, nontransmittable diseases through Accessalud. The areas that have developed are epidemiology, and clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies. Many Mexican pharma companies ask us to be their CRO because we have several contacts in biotechnology and in generics, and we know people in touch with administrative processes. We have also begun participating, and have learned a great deal in biogenetics.

Q: What other collaborations allow COMOP to influence, and learn from the sector?

A: Recently, the INSP held a forum in which the deans of the 10 biggest virtual education institutions participated, such as Johns Hopkins University, Harvard, MIT, the University of California in San Francisco, two European universities and Coursera. Now we provide Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) specializing in the health sector because we believe that everyone has the right to education. We ran our first month-long course from October to November in 2015, and an incredible 15,000 people signed up. Nevertheless, we encountered several difficulties. In the first week the platform director changed five times so it was difficult for students to get answers to their questions and our participation rate dropped to 11,000. However, 4,000 people completed the course in spite of teething problems.

COMOP aims to gain experience with 60,000 patients in two years to be able to give the Ministry of Health and Seguro Popular quality clinical outcomes. Notably, the WHO and the UN participated in the Millennium Development Goals containing an area dedicated to good health and wellbeing. This program tries to fight obesity, and anorexia without stigmatizing people involved as few individuals are in the correct weight range. Whether we expand through venture capital or franchises we have the model in place and the association is more ready than ever.