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Mexican president inaugurates centralized ‘tremendous pharmacy’ to provide medicines to all of Mexico

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s president is inaugurating a ‘tremendous pharmacy’ in a bid to finish the woes of sufferers all through the nation who are sometimes instructed they want a selected medication — however the hospital in query doesn’t have it.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s resolution was to outfit an enormous warehouse on the outskirts of Mexico Metropolis to centralize a provide and ship it to hospitals all through the nation.

“The pharmacy goes to be massive, massive, massive, and it’s going to have all of the drugs which are used within the heath system,” López Obrador stated Friday.

The concept is {that a} hospital in rural Mexico can put in an order for a sure remedy, which will likely be saved on the enormous 430,000 square-foot (40,000 sq. meter) Mexico Metropolis warehouse. The armed forces, or the government-run pharmaceutical firm Birmex, will then ship the medicine out by land, sea or air “inside 24 to 48 hours,” López Obrador pledged.

The query is whether or not Mexico can overcome its historical past of being unhealthy at regulating the pharmaceutical trade, unhealthy at shopping for medicines, unhealthy at storing them, and unhealthy at distributing them. Excessive centralization additionally hasn’t helped Mexico a lot previously in lots of areas.

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Essentially the most seen face of this drawback are the dad and mom of kids with most cancers, who regularly stage protests as a result of they are saying that lately chemotherapy and different medicine have been not possible to acquire.

Determined dad and mom blocked site visitors on the Mexico Metropolis airport final yr, holding up a banner studying: “There’s no chemotherapy, therapy or medicines, have some empathy and sensitivity.”

The issues have killed in any other case wholesome folks. As a result of Mexico has had issues in acquiring sufficient morphine, anesthesiologists in Mexico have needed to carry round their very own vials of the sedative, drawing a number of doses out of a single vial for routine procedures like spinal blocks throughout births.

In the USA, the place there isn’t any scarcity of morphine, medical doctors are suggested to attract a single dose from a vial and throw the rest out. However Mexico cannot try this. That has led to contamination of the vials, resulting in outbreaks of injection-induced meningitis in two Mexican states which have killed dozens of individuals, a few of them People who sought therapy at clinics within the border metropolis of Matamoros, throughout from Brownsville, Texas.

To López Obrador’s credit score, he mounted a significant effort to acquire COVID vaccines in 2021, utilizing the armed forces to distribute them and volunteers to assist apply them, and by the tip of that yr nearly anyone in Mexico who wished a vaccine bought one, without spending a dime.

However attempting to duplicate that mannequin of centralized authorities buying and military distribution on a nationwide scale for hundreds of medicines isn’t the identical, in accordance with Mauricio Rodríguez, a professor on the Faculty of Medication at Mexico’s Nationwide Autonomous College.

“That is loopy,” stated Rodríguez, noting the federal government is opening the centralized warehouse with out answering how the system will function, particularly for urgently-needed drugs. He famous that concentrating all of the medicine at one website will increase dangers, and will sideline some already-existing distribution techniques.

Most of the issues pre-date López Obrador, who took workplace in late 2018. For many years, there have been scandals involving of thousands and thousands of {dollars} price of medicines going out-of-date at warehouses whereas hospitals could not get them.

The nation’s medication regulatory company, identified by its Spanish acronym as Cofepris, was already so riddled with corruption previous to López Obrador that regulators would disguise purposes for approval of latest medicines for years, and demand bribes to approve them.

And with alarming frequency, regulators in Mexico ship out alerts about falsified or knock-off drugs being bought for treating every thing from most cancers to coronary heart illness. Containers, labels, vials and certifications are copied with superb accuracy, however the bottles usually comprise little or not one of the remedy.

The faux medication commerce is so widespread, and so profitable in Mexico as a result of sufferers or their kinfolk are sometimes instructed by medical doctors to purchase drugs at non-public drug shops when they’re unavailable at authorities hospitals.

The civic group “Zero Shortages” stated there was a rise of 142% within the variety of alerts about falsified medicines between 2021 and 2022.

However a part of the issues are of López Obrador’s personal making. Offended at what he claimed have been inflated earnings made by drug distributors and importers, the president merely reduce the non-public firms out and determined the federal government ought to immediately purchase all drugs.

As a result of the federal government didn’t have a lot infrastructure, contacts or expertise in such a large effort, López Obrador signed an settlement with the World Well being Group to assist Mexico in buying. However even with that assist, Mexico was unable to acquire some specialised remedy, one thing López Obrador blamed on sabotage by pharmaceutical corporations.

Rafael Gual, the director of the Nationwide Pharmaceutical Trade Chamber, stated the federal government’s personal actions created “bottlenecks” in distribution.

In accordance with the group “Zero Shortages,” the variety of prescriptions that went unfilled in Mexico rose from 1.5 million in 2019 to 22 million in 2021; disruptions because of the COVID pandemic in all probability additionally performed a task.

However even in 2022, there have been nonetheless about 12.5 million prescriptions that went unfilled.

Dr. José Moya, the Mexico consultant of the WHO, stated centralized medical warehouses could be a resolution, however the secret is to have a great logistical system.

“If they’re contemplating a warehouse like this, it is as a result of there’s a want,” Moya stated, “and this needs to be very nicely organized.”

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