Medications worth millions of pesos were left to expire in a filthy makeshift storage facility used by the Mexico City Health Ministry (Sedesa), according to workers.
Three large tents were set up on the grounds of Sedesa’s central storage facility early last year to store a range of medications and medical supplies while the site’s permanent warehouse underwent repairs.
The storage facility is supposed to keep medications and medical supplies in optimal conditions prior to distribution to Mexico City hospitals, but one tent was filled with stagnant water and trash and smelled of cat urine, according to a report by the newspaper Milenio.
A storage center worker told Milenio that medications – including pediatric cancer drugs – and medical supplies were removed from the permanent facility without proper precautions being taken.
“All the medications and materials should have been [kept] in a cool, uncontaminated place,” he said, conditions that clearly weren’t met.
“A lot of medications expired, an estimated 40 million pesos [almost US $2 million] worth of medications expired because they weren’t delivered [to hospitals],” the worker added.
Milenio said it had access to the central storage facility’s database and was able to confirm that approximately 4 million pesos worth of medications, including the cancer drug methotrexate, which has been in short supply in Mexico, expired before they were delivered to hospitals.
The worker said that a consignment of another cancer drug was destroyed because it got wet. Workers at the storage facility also claim that medications and medical supplies that were contaminated due to inadequate storage were distributed to Mexico City hospitals during the pandemic. Among them was a 424-bed coronavirus field hospital that has been described as world class.
“Amid the pandemic, from 2020 to 2021, mistreated and contaminated essential personal protective equipment and medications were distributed,” the unidentified worker said.
“… We said, how is it possible that surgical gowns they’re using in the pandemic can be [stored] in the humidity, in the middle of trash?”
Sedesa denied the claim that medications and supplies were improperly stored, telling Milenio they are subject to “strict supervision processes.”
Two of the three makeshift storage tents have now been taken down as the permanent facility is once again in operation.
Workers have blamed two high-ranking Sedesa officials for the expiry of medications and distribution of contaminated drugs and supplies, and claim that their objective is not to unduly discredit the Mexico City government led by Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.
“… I’m not interested in taking her down, I just want justice,” Milenio‘s informant said.
With reports from Milenio