What was supposed to be a health scandal in Veracruz is turning into a farce after a federal regulatory agency decided there was no evidence that cancer patients had been given fake chemotherapy treatments.
Veracruz Governor Miguel Ángel Yunes charged two weeks ago that a state-run cancer clinic had been giving distilled water instead of chemotherapy medication to several children, describing it of the “brutal crime” committed during the administration of governor-on-the-run Javier Duarte.
Fidel Herrera, Duarte’s predecessor, was later singled out as well after it was discovered that phony cancer drugs were first reported during his administration. Herrera resigned his post as Mexican consul in Barcelona last week to fight the allegation.
Yesterday, the head of Cofepris, the Federal Commission for Protection Against Health Risks, stated that no proof has been found that false cancer treatments or distilled water had been given to adult or child patients.
Julio Sánchez y Tepoz made the announcement after his agency finalized the tests it was running on samples of the cancer drugs found in storage.
Sánchez said the agency had reviewed the medical files of 151 cancer patients — 36 children and 115 adults — treated by the state of Veracruz between 2011 and 2016.
“We do not have one single piece of evidence indicating that false drugs were administered. We also have no evidence with regard to the origin of the accusations pertaining to distilled water.”
He added that the government of Veracruz had been notified earlier this week about the results of the agency’s investigations.
Governor Yunes later accused the agency of jumping the gun in order to close the case, and gave the assurance that there is evidence that contradicts the findings by Cofepris. He said the state had not yet presented the results of its own investigations and described it as “strange” that the federal agency would not wait for an answer from the state Health Secretariat.
“It seems risky to me to provide information of this nature with concluding the investigation.”
In addition to looking for fake medications, Cofepris staff collected 16.8 tonnes of expired medications and close to unregistered 47,000 HIV test kits from a warehouse used by the Veracruz Health Secretariat.
Of the HIV test kits, Sánchez sad that all lacked official registration, had expired and failed to comply with official labeling regulations. Their assessment is still under way, he added.
Cofepris has determined that the Duarte administration purchased 70,000 of the HIV test kits in 2011, and began distributing them that year to the state’s 11 health jurisdictions.
The kits were imported directly from China by the state without the proper permits, said Sánchez, noting that over 23,000 of them have yet to be accounted for.