Only 15 of Mexico’s state health authorities have adhered to the 2018/19 edition of the consolidated medicines tender led by the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS), according to local media reports. This means a significant decline in participation from the previous 2017/18 tender, when 22 of the country’s 32 (including Mexico City) devolved administrations participated in the exercise. According to various local sources, some states are citing as the reason for not participating. The health secretary of the state of Guanajuato, Daniel Alberto Díaz Martínez, has for example highlighted that the tender system in Mexico generates supply delays, with local health systems forced to “double procure” some of the products. Guanajuato is among the states that have decided not to participate in the consolidated tender.

The reduced participation in the 2018/19 tender means that it will likely involve a lower volume of drugs than did 2017/18’s record edition, which registered a 13% increase in funds and 20% rise in the number of participating entities compared with that of 2016/17. Mexico has otherwise looked to tendering as a key tenet of its healthcare priorities, with each tender successively increasing in size (and complexity) until now. The concerns raised by some states regarding supply issues generated by the tender are difficult to verify, but there have been reports of local drug shortages in a number of states.

It is likely that the devolved administrations will experience increased pressure to adhere to consolidated drug procurement exercises following the impending government transition. Mexico’s incoming president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), has mentioned consolidating procurement as one of the key ways in which he intends to improve the financial efficiency of the Mexican healthcare system. Besides cost savings, centralised procurement can also increase transparency and reduce the potential for funds misuse and corruption, key themes of AMLO’s policy agenda.

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