By Hayleybarcar. CC0 Creative Commons.

Doctors adjacent to private pharmacies now provide 325,000 daily visits across the country, which is 35,000 more than Mexico’s largest healthcare provider, IMSS, according to COFEPRIS. While these offices had little prevalence a decade ago, they have grown at an accelerated pace in recent years and now play an important role in Mexico’s healthcare practices.

While doctor’s offices next to a pharmacy were not unheard of over a decade ago, their numbers boomed after 2010 when the sale of antibiotics was deemed prescription-only, a measure aimed at reducing self-medication and addressing antimicrobial resistance. However, this policy acted as a boon for doctors at pharmacies. Between 2010 and 2015 their number grew by 240 percent and now there are 15,000, reported COFEPRIS.

What’s more, studies indicate that patients now prefer these consultation centers over public hospitals and clinics. A study of patients who visited these doctor’s offices revealed that 65 percent of them have access to a public healthcare institution. However, long wait times are commonly associated with IMSS clinics and hospitals, with some patients claiming up to a six-hour wait to be seen by a doctor. Together with the institute’s continuous shortage of personnel and medications, these gaps in care have contributed to a decrease in trust in the institute from the general population. But those who visit doctors adjacent to pharmacies claimed to be satisfied with the service they receive and called them inexpensive and convenient due to their proximity and short wait times.

However, visits to doctors adjacent to private pharmacies is impacting patients’ wallets as the cost of their medication is now paid out-of-pocket instead of by the public institution. But as budget cuts continue to hit the public healthcare sector, patients prefer convenience so the presence of pharmacy-adjacent doctor’s offices in Mexico is expected to continue growing.

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