On Tuesday, January 8, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) focused on the importance of public purchases of drugs during the presentation of a report on administrative simplification of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS). At the event, the OECD proposed that the IMSS consolidate current mechanisms to avoid collusion of participants in public tenders. The institute is set to make public purchases of drugs and the digitization of its processes more transparent. The remaining countries of the region that intend to join the OECD are expected to follow these recommendations. Among them are Argentina, Colombia, Chile (which is already a member), Costa Rica and Peru.
Other recommendations made by the OECD are the standardization of documents at the local level; the creation of a global database (with information about bidders and winners); and the improvement of links with other agencies, such as the Secretariat of Public Function (SFP) and the Federal Competition Commission (Cofece). OECD believes the IMSS will make a minimum 25% cost saving through the simplification and digitization of its procedures, which would facilitate access to the drugs involved in these public purchases.
Although the Mexican institution has electronically facilitated 31 of the 84 procedures that are available, this amount is still less than half of the 79 authorized by the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT) in Argentina. Chile and Mexico are so far the only two Latin American members of the OECD, although Colombia is close to completing the accession process. Costa Rica has already passed half of the necessary stages to join the organization and Argentina wants to follow in its footsteps.
The administrative simplification undertaken by Mexico is expected to be an example for other Latin American countries, as is the progress that Argentina has shown in this area. OECD believes that in guaranteeing public access to drugs, the public mechanisms for purchasing them need to be made more transparent. Hence, regulatory coherence throughout the continent could lead to more agile joint purchases between several governments and a reduction in public spending on drugs.