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Mexico’s pharmaceutical industry grows

February 1, 2022
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin companies can provide services and products to the pharmaceutical and medical markets in Mexico, and these exports are particularly needed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mexico has the second-largest pharmaceutical market in Latin America and ranks among the top 15 globally.

As an important producer of medicines—including antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and cancer treatments—Mexico is projected to top $13 billion USD in pharmaceutical sales by 2028. Since 2000, patients in the Mexican health care system have had more access to oncology treatments and generic drugs, which have expanded the country’s pharmaceutical industry.

More than 128 million Mexican citizens receive their health insurance and prescription drug coverage through two public health care systems and the private sector. Although an estimated 90% of the population is covered for a core set of health services, out-of-pocket payments remain high, amounting to more than 40% of the country’s total health expenditure.

Public health care institutions account for 70-80% of all medical services provided nationwide, while private health care institutions serve approximately 25–30% of the Mexican population. In 2019, Mexico had 22,831 public health care units, including 4,629 hospitals, of which 194 were highly specialized medical centers and 3,114 were accredited private hospitals, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. Only about 100 private hospitals had more than 50 beds and the capacity to offer highly specialized services.

However, Mexico’s health care sector is facing ongoing challenges. In recent years, demand for imported medical devices has increased. But due to administrative changes at the Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS), there have been significant delays for registering and importing new products into the market. To reduce delays, COFEPRIS has approved the use of regulatory approval from other countries as an alternative.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional concerns about health care funding and the quality of care. Mexico had the third-lowest vaccination rate for COVID-19 of the 37 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as of November 2021, and health-related spending rose to 6.2% of Mexico’s gross domestic product in 2020 from 5.4% in 2019, according to the OECD.

The pandemic has boosted the need for medical devices and supplies to treat patients and protect health care workers in Mexico. Private and public health facilities seek new technologies and pharmaceuticals to continue combating the pandemic, according to the U.S. International Trade Administration, and that may present opportunities for Wisconsin companies in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries.

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