Mario Cervantes
VP of Manufacturing
CareFusion/Becton Dickinson
View from the Top

Tijuana: a Critical Hub for US Hospitals

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 09:41

Q: How do CareFusion products contribute to improving the service at Mexican hospitals?

A: BD offers a wide array of products to hospitals around the world. In particular, in Tijuana, CareFusion manufactures IV sets and related products used to deliver fluids and medication to patients. We produce over 1 million IV sets per day. That makes us one of the largest manufacturers of this type of product in the world. We supply IV sets to Mexico as part of a bundle of BD products, including syringes, needles, diabetes care and medication management solutions.

Q: What is your best-selling product in the Mexican market?

A: That would be the Alaris pump, the pump that is compatible with the IV sets we manufacture at this site. It is widely used in hospitals because of its precision in dispensing doses through computerized control. The pumps can interact with computers in the hospital to insure the correct fluids and drugs are being dispensed to the patient. One of the main issues hospitals face is the dispensing of incorrect medication formulas and doses. Our infusion systems devices work both independently and together to accurately deliver infusions while helping protect each patient.

Q: What recent innovative products have you brought to Mexico?

A: A key element of our product is the type of connector valve we use. It allows physicians to access the IV set without using needles. Connector valves can be classified as positive displacement no displacement or negative displacement according to doctors’ needs. The importance of this product lies in the elimination of needles as they need to be disposed of afterward, which creates a health hazard for nurses. Patients are mostly medicated alongside the IV sets and the drugs sometimes attack the resin the IV sets are made of. The valves are designed to withstand even the most aggressive chemicals in chemotherapy sessions.

Q: What are the main regulatory challenges in Mexico for pharma companies?

A: We are a global company and we need to comply with many regulations. We live in an extremely regulated environment. We need to comply with the FDA, European regulation, ISO and COFEPRIS for products sold in Mexico. Over the past few years we have witnessed the homogenization of regulations. COFEPRIS regulations are similar to those required for pharma but not so much for medical device manufacturing. This is an area in which as a country we could improve by segregating COFEPRIS regulations so they could have two branches, one focused on pharma and another branch dedicated to regulate and control medical device manufacturing.

Q: What percentage of the market in Mexico do you occupy?

A: Mexico and Latin America are vital for the development of BD. We have grown dramatically in Mexico, the secret to which is our Mexican associates. We have the best personnel to work with. Our direct labor is dedicated, of high quality and with a consciousness for quality like nowhere else in the world. Our professional base is comprised of engineers, administrators and finance specialists.

Everyone is highly specialized and qualified in what they do. Previously, I tried to set up manufacturing sites in Eastern Europe, North Africa and Asia but we were limited by the number of professionals available. In Baja California, we are blessed with a large cluster of medical device manufacturers that employ between 40,000- 45,000 people. This is a large pool of professionals already knowledgeable about sterilization, product validation and new production introductions. Anyone can buy machines and buildings but Mexican associates are an insurance for success.

Q: How are universities and companies working together to ensure human talent is optimal and willing to stay in Mexico?

A: There are almost 35 public and private universities in the area. We have close relationships and agreements with them to prepare professionals with the necessary skills.We have 25-26 paid interns working for us as part of the agreement. This allows them not only to complete the number of work experience hours needed for their degree but also to learn something valuable. We forbid interns from performing clerical jobs as that is not what they are here for. They come to complement their education and we want to make sure they get valuable experience during their time with us. Quite often, these interns return to work with us as engineers. We recently hired a young lady who completed her internship with us and then graduated at the top of her engineering class.

We also invest heavily in our employees on technical aspects such as process validation abilities, but also on the soft skills a well-rounded professional always needs. We have many seminars and training sessions on supervisory skills, emotional intelligence, how to deal with difficult people, among others. These well-balanced professionals eventually will be managers; people skills make them promotable. We believe in promoting from within and in developing talent.

We have a very good program to help our employees through high school and through professional education. We have 16 employees in elementary school, almost 30 in secondary school, 10 are completing a bachelor’s degree and five or six are working on a master’s degree. Every year we hold a party for those that graduate. We also have other kinds of classes for our employees, such as salsa dancing or health cooking, singing and guitar lessons. We offer about 10 different programs, English lessons included.

The country in general, and Baja California in particular, needs to continue to invest in talent development. We seem to be growing faster in the industry than the talent pool is, so although we invest in developing our associates we also need the participation of the government. The three government levels must make it easier for the young population to enroll in schools and to obtain scholarships to be successful professionals. We also need to promote technical education for those that decide not to pursue a professional degree.

Q: What growth has CareFusion seen in recent years and what growth do you expect to see? Is this expected to be via acquisitions or via organic growth?

A: CareFusion is now part of BD and our site in Tijuana has grown from 2,000 employees six years ago to 5,800 employees today. This shows dramatic head count growth and we have seen it also in terms of exports from Mexico. Right now products from Tijuana are valued at close to US$900 million in global sales. This site is critical for hospital operation in the US and Latin America as 90 percent to 95 percent of patients admitted to hospital will receive some type of intravenous therapy. We also sell our products in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. BD believes in manufacturing close to the market, so products destined for the Asian and Eastern European markets are manufactured near to those regions. We expect to see both organic and nonorganic growth. Organic growth has been at 7-8 percent year on year in which acquisitions have also played a significant role. BD recently acquired CareFusion but even before, CareFusion was acquiring other companies such as Medegen Inc. and others. Combined organic and inorganic growth would be around 12 percent for Tijuana.

Q: What are the most relevant projects you are working on?

A: We continue to grow tremendously. We are investing heavily on automation, injection molding machines, molds and extrusion.

Q: What percentage of production remains in Mexico and what percentage is exported?

A: 100 percent of production goes to the US and 85 percent is consumed within the US. The remaining 15 percent goes to Australia, New Zealand, Italy, England, France, Latin America and Spain.

Q: What can we expect to see from CareFusion over the next year?

A: You will see products that continue to improve lives, they will be easier to use by nurses and doctors, safer for patients and more resistant to the new drugs being administered to patients in chemo sessions. There will also be much advancement in the software that comes with our pumps and how they interact with computers in hospitals to track drug use and ensure the medication is correct. It would for example prevent an infant from being supplied with an adult dose.