Finding its feet
Over the last decade, an influx of foreign products, as well as a lack of government action, led to a slump in Mexico’s once mighty pharmaceutical industry. Today, as companies in the sector cannily adapt their strategies across areas from product development to distribution, the industry is experiencing an unprecedented re-emergence, supported by an increasingly robust regulatory framework.
July 19th, 2012
In 2008, the Mexican government removed its mandatory manufacturing requirement, allowing new companies to set up in the country. This, coupled with the country’s raft of free trade agreements, led to the industry being undermined by cheaper foreign imports. To stay ahead of the curve, Mexico’s pharmaceutical firms are now opting to pursue bioequivalent generics – or partner with those who can. They’re also becoming more conscious of the need for investment in innovation.
“This will undoubtedly have to be a checkpoint with the new government, given that investment in technological research and development is well below the standards of other countries,” said Dr. Dagoberto Cortes, president of ANAFAM (National Drugmakers Association), adding that currently, only 0.37 per cent of GDP is invested in R&D.
And while the country currently only invests around 6 per cent of GDP into health, compared to around 9 per cent in the UK, this is quickly rising due to the increased coverage offered by the Seguro Popular programme.
Another reason for this growth is Mexico’s changing demographic structure, which has led to manufacturers of treatments for lifestyle ailments to take a fresh look at the country.
To meet the anticipated need for more medication and mitigate spiralling drug costs, the public and private sector have joined forces to promote the domestic manufacture and sale of generics, revolutionising the industry. Today, more than 60 per cent of the 2.5 billion units sold annually in the country are generic, and the country aims to become a global leader in the regulation of biologic and biosimilar medicines.
Steps have already been taken: COFEPRIS (Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risk) is working to change consumer perceptions of generic drugs and incentivise investment in world-class drug manufacturing facilities.
“When treatment becomes a problem because the patient can’t pay for drugs, generics offer quality at an accessible price,” adds Cortés.
Mexico’s pharmaceutical market has turned itself around, and the future is bright. With an estimated annual growth rate of almost 5 per cent, and projected annual sales of 195.20 billion pesos (£9.4 billion) for 2012, pharmaceuticals are now second only to cars in terms of importance to the Mexican economy.