Q: How has the government tender process been working?
A: It changes constantly. At the moment they are talking about packages, which we are still trying to understand. It is not possible to have every product for such packages and it represents some complexity. I think it will make some distributors stronger than they already are. That concerns me. Up to now however, the process is working.
There are some requirements that are impossible to meet for us. We need to use distributors. For example, a hospital far away in Hermosillo may request a product within 24 hours. We cannot do this, neither can most companies. For this, we need to work with a distribution company that has its own center. Mexico is five times the size of France, we cannot deliver any given product anywhere in the country within 24 hours. To become more efficient, they are ditching their warehouses and we are becoming their warehouse. This is turning operations into something similar to a just-in-time process, which is extremely complicated.
We have different logistics partners as some prefer to work in certain therapeutic areas or territories. They look for endorsement letters, coming to us asking if they win the tender we will supply them with a certain product. We sign with the minimum volume and price. If they win the tender we sell it to them. Some tenders are national, international or mixed. It is not that they sometimes want to bring in someone from the outside, but it happens that no local company can fill the requirements. We participate as a national company if the product is manufactured in Mexico, international if it is manufactured in Canada or India. The products made in India are more problematic as the tender process generally does not accept products made in India. This is due to a prejudice on the way things are done in India, that maybe they are not confident as to the quality of those products.
Q: What benefits has COFEPRIS’ authorized third party system brought to the industry?
A: The system works well. It costs money as we have to pay for the service but we get faster approvals. It has been a benefit for us and patients to get new products sooner or to put lower-cost generics on the market faster. Some Big Pharma companies are trying to extend IP protection, looking for opportunities in the legal framework. As patients and consumers, we shouldn’t allow this. At Apotex Mexico we respect patents of course, but they should not be extended for small reasons that do not represent real invention.
This is an excerpt of an interview to be published in Mexico Health Review 2017 – to nominate your company for an interview please contact Marta Aguilar firstname.lastname@example.org