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imss hospital villa de alvarez A shortage of cancer medications has impacted patients at this hospital in Colima.

Cancer treatments canceled in Colima due to shortage of medications

Patients complain about canceled chemotherapy appointments

Chemotherapy has been canceled at at least one public hospital in Colima due to a lack of cancer medications.

Cancer patient Perla Villa said Saturday that her chemotherapy appointment at the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) General Hospital No. 1 in the municipality of Villa de Álvarez was canceled and that it was unclear when her treatment would resume.

“I have an appointment for tomorrow but sadly they called me this morning to tell me it would be canceled,” she said in a video posted to her Facebook account. “Why? Because there are no chemotherapy drugs.  … There are now definitely none … and they don’t know when there will be [more],” Villa said.

In a video filmed at the IMSS hospital, she said she had filed a complaint on her behalf and that of other patients in the same situation.

“It’s sad that they’re canceling our treatment and they’re telling me here that I’m not the only one who has made a complaint. Several people have come to make a complaint due to the same situation – the lack of medications,” Villa said.

“I please ask you to share this video so that it goes viral and we can receive our treatment as we deserve,” she said.

As of Monday afternoon, the video had been shared about 5,000 times and attracted over 600 comments.

“It’s not fair,” Villa said. “The government needs to get its act together so that there is medicine. I don’t know where the chain is broken … [but the cancer drugs] are not arriving where they should arrive, which is to each of us patients.”

A day before Villa posted her video, Twitter user Yadira Rocha said that her grandmother had been unable to access chemotherapy at the same hospital due to a shortage of paclitaxel, a medication used to treat a range of cancers.

The news website Publimetro reported that cancer patients in Colima have been complaining about drug shortages since July. IMSS hasn’t publicly addressed the issue.

For its part, state-owned medical company Birmex has acknowledged difficulties fulfilling the tasks the current federal government allocated to it: the purchasing and distribution of medications. Birmex said in a report that due to the “level of complexity” and a lack of resources it hasn’t concluded a project to develop a new national distribution system.

However, the state-owned company isn’t directly responsible for the lack of medications at the hospital in Villa de Álvarez as it was disqualified from an IMSS tendering process to find a distributor after it was deemed incapable of meeting the public health care provider’s needs.

Shortages of chemotherapy medications – especially those used to treat children with cancer – have plagued the government led by President López Obrador, who last year raised the possibility of using the army to get drugs to public health care facilities. AMLO has entrusted a range of non-traditional tasks to the military, but hasn’t – as yet – put it in charge of delivering drugs.

With reports from Publimetro and Reforma

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