Tuesday, April 16, 2024

AMLO pledges to create stockpile of ‘all the medicines of the world’

A warehouse containing “all the medicines of the world” could be the solution to ongoing problems with the supply of pharmaceuticals, President López Obrador said Wednesday.

Speaking at his morning press conference, López Obrador said he would put his proposal to federal health authorities.

AMLO Manañera
President López Obrador said he would put his proposal to stockpile medication to the federal health authorities. (lopezobrador.org.mx)

“We now have supply of over 90% in 14 states where IMSS Bienestar is operating,” he said, referring to the government’s new universal healthcare scheme.

“But to provide a definitive way out from the [medications] shortage, I’m going to propose the creation of a kind of pharmacy — a pharmacy in Mexico City, a warehouse, with all the medicines of the world in reasonable quantities,” López Obrador said.

He said the facility would serve as a “reserve bank of medications” and pledged that it would be in operation before he leaves office on Oct. 1, 2024.

“The idea is to have all the medications so that we never lack any,” López Obrador said, adding that his proposal is to have a permanent inventory of all pharmaceutical drugs including those that are “the most difficult in the world to obtain.”

a packet of pills
In 2020, the president said he would create a state-owned company to distribute medications, medical supplies and vaccines, but it was never established. (Nastya Hulhiier/Unsplash)

He didn’t provide an estimate on the cost of creating a national stockpile of pharmaceuticals to supply public hospitals, which have faced shortages of some drugs – such as ones used to treat children with cancer and people with psychiatric disorders – during the term of the current government, which took office in late 2018.

Although López Obrador promised that the well-stocked warehouse will become a reality, if it doesn’t come to fruition it won’t be the first time that one of the president’s health sector proposals fails.

In 2020, he said he intended to create a state-owned company to distribute medications, medical supplies and vaccines, but it was never established and the reputation of the official tapped to head it, David León, was tarnished after videos surfaced showing him handing over large amounts of cash to one of the president’s brothers in 2015.

Almost two years ago, López Obrador directed Health Minister Jorge Alcocer and another senior official to resolve the problem of medication shortages “without excuses.”

Parents of children with cancer protested at the Mexico City airport on Tuesday.
AMLO’s administration has struggled to have enough of a variety of medications on hand in the country for public health service patients, who can end up waiting weeks and month for crucial medications to be available. Here, parents protest at Mexico City’s airport over a lack of chemotherapy medicines available for their children with cancer. (File foto/Cuartoscuro)

“I don’t want to hear that medications are lacking and I don’t want excuses of any kind. We can’t sleep soundly if there are no medications to treat sick people,” López Obrador said in November 2021.

“We won’t relax while there isn’t a sufficient supply of medications, … free medications, all of them, even those that are hardest to get,” he said.

López Obrador has said on repeated occasions this year that the government has purchased enough medications to cover needs for this year and 2024, but shortages of some drugs have continued to be reported.

The president has blamed shortages on distribution problems and, earlier in his government, corruption in the now-defunct purchasing system used by previous governments.

The government’s new purchasing system and insufficient spending have been cited as factors that have contributed to medication shortages during López Obrador’s presidency.

With reports from Reforma, El Universal, Expansión and El Financiero

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