Drug Shortage in Mexico Piles Woes on Cancer-Stricken Children - (The Wall Street Journal via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Mexico is running low on cancer medications, the unintended consequence of an effort by the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in part to crack down on waste and theft in the government's annual $5-billion in drug purchases, and challenge monopolies in the domestic pharmaceutical industry, reported The Wall Street Journal.

  • The public health system has long been plagued by high prices and periodic shortages, partially due to a lack of competition in drug distribution and regulations that discourage the production of generic drugs, said Alejandra Palacios, head of Mexico’s antitrust agency Cofece.

  • For months, the López Obrador administration has placed much of the blame for the shortages on PiSA Pharmaceuticals, which runs mixing laboratories for cancer medicines, including methotrexate.

  • Regulators last year ordered a sanitary review of PiSA's facilities after three children died at a public hospital after taking methotrexate, ordering a temporary closure of its methotrexate mixing laboratory, leading to shortages of the drug.

  • PiSA blames the shortages on López Obrador's decision last year to do away with a nationwide health insurance system for the poor that is roughly the equivalent of Medicaid, according to a person familiar with the company.

  • Meanwhile, the government has responded to allegations it has mishandled the rollout of its new drug-purchasing system by blaming hospitals and doctors, saying they are colluding with pharmaceutical companies.

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