Country Report: Mexico - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Country Report: Mexico
Shaking Up the System

Pharmaceutical Executive


TOO MUCH TORTILLA

According to the BMI's Burden of Disease Database (BoDD), a few years ago diabetes represented 6% of all disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in Mexico. This figure will continue to rise until more than 1.5 million DALYs are lost to the disease less than fifteen years from now. Local data indicates that more than a third of Mexicans who have diabetes are unaware that they are suffering from the disease. As it stands, diabetes represents about 35% of all Mexico's public health spending, and data published suggests that there will be more than 13.5 million sufferers by the year 2025.


Joel Durán, Marketing Director, Novo Nordisk Mexico
Diabetes is clearly Mexico's biggest current health problem, which may be explained by the fact that Mexico is currently top in the world for child obesity, and number two for adult obesity. Although looking at increasingly popular eating habits in Mexico, the problem most likely isn't too much tortilla. It is the highly westernized diet that has crept into Mexican society in the form of too many processed foods and far too many sugar-filled sodas.

Joel Durán, director of marketing at diabetes specialist Novo Nordisk in Mexico, suggests that due to the sheer size of the problem, a solution backed by all stakeholders in the market needs to be found.

"Given the speed at which diabetes is rising we need stronger collaborations and partnerships in order to change the mentality of the Mexican people. If we do not do this, we will not achieve the common goal of changing the face of diabetes and tackle the problem in the most effective way. We should beat diabetes before it beats us. That is our main concern—how can we make a change and how can we participate and provide knowledge, expertise, education, and be a factor of change in terms of finding a solution, to ultimately beat diabetes."


Carlos Baños, President and General Director, Lilly Mexico
Not many people can disagree with that stance, but it may be easier said than done.

The three largest social security institutions in Mexico; IMSS, ISSTE and Seguro Popular, run specific diabetes programs that include nutritional education and psychological support. They are also trying to include a wider selection of pharmaceutical treatments in an attempt to provide more comprehensive care. But are these enough?

If combating diabetes requires a complete change in mentality for Mexicans, then it certainly is a tall order. It is far more achievable if the pieces of the current mentality puzzle can be put together and understood. Many people say that there is a social stigma surrounding diabetes and a dislike of anybody knowing that you have the disease. This would probably explain the high percentage of undiagnosed sufferers. Durán believes there is a strong emotional connection with food in Mexico because of the high proportion of family events that involve eating, and the thought of treatment might drag patients away from being able to participate.


Carlos López Patán, General Director, Medix
"This emotional connection is preventing a lot of patients from making small but crucial changes in diet and lifestyle habits that would enable better treatment compliance," he explains.

If mentality is the underlying cause of both under-diagnosis and non-compliance with treatment, it becomes even more important to break down barriers and to start to tackle this elephant of a problem. Carlos Baños, president and general director of Eli Lilly in Mexico believes, along with the majority of the industry, that education is essential for treatment compliance. This not only involves telling people about the disease and what they need to do, but tailor-making real educational solutions for society.

"In Mexico the average person reads fewer than two books a year. This is a big challenge because we can produce the most beautiful material about how to manage diabetes, but achieve nothing because the materials have not been read." One of Eli Lilly's solutions to the problem is an educational tool called Diabetes Conversations Maps.

"This tool was developed globally and adapted locally to adjust to the culture of Mexico. It is a game, similar to Monopoly, which helps teach people living with diabetes and their family all they need to know on the disease and how to care for themselves." he continues.

When it comes to diabetes treatments, the sharp increase of competition in the field has made brand loyalty more important than ever. Increasing compliance and making the physician's life easier is essential. Education to ensure brand loyalty can often be seen in Mexico in the form of a trained nurse who spends more time with the patient than the doctor in the patients' own homes, to show them how to use the treatment equipment, how to clean it and store it properly. A big investment on the part of the pharmaceutical companies, but brand loyalty for chronic illnesses seems to be worth it.

Carlos López Patán, general director of Medix, the Mexican specialists on obesity, explains that for him, the key to success in providing obesity treatment lies in the provision of an entire catalogue of individualized services and products.


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Source: Pharmaceutical Executive,
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