Country Report: Mexico - Pharmaceutical Executive


Country Report: Mexico
Shaking Up the System

Pharmaceutical Executive


Healthcare has been a top priority in Mexico for the last ten years, with the government working hard to keep its promise of universal coverage and increased hospital and medical infrastructure throughout the country.

Ricardo Alvarez Tostado, President and General Director, AstraZeneca Mexico
As a testimony to this, Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, openly praised the Mexican government at the International Forum on Universal Health Coverage in Mexico City on April 2nd, 2012 by stating: "I am pleased to hear that Mexico is achieving its goal [of universal coverage], with health care available to everyone in the country. This gives the world an outstanding example of what can be achieved through high-level political commitment."

Under the current system, there are three major institutions. The Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) is the largest social security institution in Latin America. IMSS covers all formal workers in the private sector, which according to the latest IMS Health data represents 44.3% of the total population.

The Institute of Health and Social Services (ISSSTE), covers all government workers and represents around 9.8% of the total population. Recent financial restructuring and cost saving initiatives within both IMSS and ISSSTE have contributed to a strongly pro-generics attitude within the two health systems.

Thirdly, Seguro Popular was created in 2003 as a type of public insurance scheme to provide health service coverage for Mexicans not affiliated with any social security institution. Seguro Popular has been the main driver of increased public health coverage, and the government recently pledged that 80% of state-purchased medicines should be comprised solely of generic drugs.

The Mexican pharma market has always had an historically low generics penetration, and these three initiatives are pushing it firmly towards a more generics-focused environment.

Although the pharmaceutical industry has expressed its delight at such a noble scheme, the government healthcare systems have not been without their problems. Many people in the industry feel that when price is the only basis on which to win a government tender, quality falls into second place.

Héctor Carrillo, General Director, Apotex Mexico
Hector Carillo, general director of Apotex Mexico, points out that "The government continues to be a good business for us because supplying on time is becoming increasingly important. When it comes to timely and high quality product delivery, they know we can do it. But we cannot supply at their requested benchmark prices. They demand the lowest possible pricing from the market, and while we understand Seguro Popular has a limited budget and is required to look for the lowest possible prices, Apotex cannot compromise on quality just to get the extra sale."

Alongside these pricing concerns are questions over the administrative complexities of Seguro Popular and the fact that it is run locally across each State in the country. This is causing headaches for pain specialists Grünenthal.


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