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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 informed they want a particular medication – however the hospital in query doesn’t have it.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s resolution was to outfit a giant 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 large, large, large, and it will have all of the medicines which might be used within the heath system,” López Obrador mentioned Friday.

The thought is {that a} hospital in rural Mexico can put in an order for a sure medicine, which can be saved on the big 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 prior to now in lots of areas.

Essentially the most seen face of this drawback are the mother and father of kids with most cancers, who continuously stage protests as a result of they are saying that in recent times chemotherapy and different medicine have been unattainable to acquire.

Determined mother and father blocked site visitors on the Mexico Metropolis airport final yr, holding up a banner studying: “There isn’t any chemotherapy, remedy or medicines, have some empathy and sensitivity.”

The issues have killed in any other case wholesome individuals. 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 america, 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 can’t 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 remedy at clinics within the border metropolis of Matamoros, throughout from Brownsville, Texas.

To López Obrador’s credit score, he mounted a serious 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 needed a vaccine received one, without spending a dime.

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

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

Most of the issues pre-date López Obrador, who took workplace in late 2018. For many years, there have been scandals involving of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} price of medicines going out-of-date at warehouses whereas hospitals couldn’t 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 functions for approval of recent medicines for years, and demand bribes to approve them.

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

The pretend medication commerce is so frequent, and so profitable in Mexico as a result of sufferers or their relations are sometimes informed by medical doctors to purchase medicines at non-public drug shops when they’re unavailable at authorities hospitals.

The civic group “Zero Shortages” mentioned 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. Indignant at what he claimed had 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 straight purchase all medicines.

As a result of the federal government didn’t have a lot infrastructure, contacts or expertise in such an enormous 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 medicine, one thing López Obrador blamed on sabotage by pharmaceutical companies.

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

In line 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 as a result of COVID pandemic most likely additionally performed a job.

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, mentioned centralized medical warehouses generally is a resolution, however the secret’s to have a great logistical system.

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

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