Amid warnings from parents that they would block highways, hospital entrances and even the border crossing in Tijuana, the Secretariat of Health promised this week that cancer medications will arrive in six states experiencing shortages.
Health Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell said at a meeting with parents of cancer sufferers on Tuesday that medication was already on its way to hospitals in Yucatán and that the drugs would arrive in Baja California, Jalisco, Veracruz, México state and Guerrero on Wednesday.
López-Gatell said that there was a worldwide shortage of three important cancer drugs: vincristine, cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide.
But the government was able to buy the medications from Argentina, he added, and the current stock is enough to last three months.
“We can’t guarantee that we’ll have enough for the whole year, but we can’t wait around and we’re going to keep looking and looking until we have a steady supply,” he said.
Parents said they would give the government a chance to come through on its promise, but will take serious actions if it does not.
“We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt,” said Israel Rivas Bastidas, whose daughter is in need of the lifesaving drugs. “[But] if [the drugs] don’t get to the hospitals, there will be protests.”
He said on Sunday that concerned parents would block the coastal highway in Acapulco, Guerrero, and the international border crossing between Tijuana and the United States.
He added that he and others will attend the next dialogue-table meeting on the following Tuesday in order to see about advances being made with their list of demands.
“We need to know the quality of the medications and who they were purchased from. I trust that things will improve, and if the government promises and comes through, it has my respect … but if it doesn’t, we’ll continue fighting.”
The federal government changed its medications purchasing model in May of last year. The pharmaceutical industry foresaw problems with the new model and said it would not be responsible for any shortages that arose as a result.
Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero said at Tuesday’s meeting that patients with HIV experienced a similar shortage last year, but that the problem was resolved within a month.
Parents of children with cancer have not had the same luck. Hospitals experienced multiple shortages of cancer drugs and other medical supplies throughout the year and into 2020, leading to protests on multiple occasions.