Over the weekend, a strange event happened in Mexico, a total of 37,956 doses of cancer medication were stolen from the Mexican pharmaceutical, Novag Infancia S.A. de C.V. facilities in Mexico City. Mexico’s city mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, says it strange that other medications in the facility, with higher price value, were left untouched.
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday confirmed the theft of thousands of doses of cancer treatments that were destined mainly to treat children with cancer, and described the crime as very strange.
“Authorities are already investigating to identify the perpetrators of this robbery… noting that this is a very unusual event.” said AMLO.
According to the report of the Prosecutor’s Office, the thieves were in three trucks, a cargo van and another Express van. It was a group of between 10 and 15 people, some armed.
The Cofepris which is in charge of health alerts reported the robbery occurred on October 7th, and the criminals only focused on stealing cancer medications even when the warehouse had more expensive ones. The stolen drugs were manufactured by Laboratorio Kemex S.A. In a table, Cofepris detailed that 4,606 pieces of Fluorouracil of 500 milligrams in a box with 5 bottles were stolen; 4,005 pieces of Daunorubicin of 20 milligrams boxed with 1 bottle; as well as 2,880 of Oxaliplatin of 100 mg (20 mL) in a box with 1 bottle; 1,505 pieces of Etoposide of 100 mg box with 10 bottles (5 mL); and 2,688 pieces of Cyclophosphamide 200 mg boxed with 5 bottles.
As well as 4,480 pieces of Epirubicin of 10 mg (5 mL); 2,592 of Cyclophosphamide 1 g box with 1 bottle; 4,480 Idarubicin 5 mg; 2,080 of Oxaliplatin 50 mg box with 1 bottle (10 mL); 4,160 of Dacarbazine 200 mg box with 1 bottle; and 4,480 of Mitomycin 5 mg box with 1 bottle.
“It was difficult for us to obtain and import these medicines from Argentina,” AMLO highlighted.
Health authorities are as worry for medication scarce because there are six other international laboratories that were contracted to provide the same products, that is, the country has a multiple supply.
A monopoly of a handful of re-seller pharma companies who controlled the market in Mexico for decades, began to sabotage the medication supply chain after the new government began investigating their illegal operations consisting of a laundry list of crimes including: price gouging, bribery, corruption, theft, sale of contaminated medications, and years-old expired medications.
The government of President Lopez Obrador (AMLO) had to fly large emergency airplanes to Argentina, India, and France to obtain the medications the pharma companies stopped distributing with the intention of sabotage, while at the same time launching a campaign to blame AMLO and the federal government for the lack of medications.
The President was unable to give further details or the identity of the thieves due to the ongoing investigation but, he took the opportunity to send a message to the families of children with cancer.
“We are making efforts to replace the stolen drugs, so that they can be available in all hospitals soon. We know how families suffer when a child’s life depends on a missing medication,” he added.
It is not yet certain if the same pharmaceutical companies are behind the stolen medications, or if the theft was politically motivated. President Lopez Obrador explained the case under investigation. The government is currently seeking to purchase the stolen medications as an immediate replacement, but the 10 companies that form the monopoly in Mexico, which AMLO calls a mafia-like group, have reached out to other pharma groups outside the country asking them not to sell the children’s meds to the government. Its soft of a type of sanction against Mexico by a private entity.
“What has hurt Mexico the must is white collar crimes.”
This event in Mexico not only shows the level of endemic corruption the President AMLO inherited when he took office, but reveals a worldwide network of pharmaceutical groups willing to go as far as hurting children with cancer just to maintain control of their targeted markets.