• Cofepris is drawing up a proposal aimed at guaranteeing access to quality, safe and effective medicines for the region
  • At present, ten countries support the proposal to establish a regional agency

           During the 7th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), Mexico presented a roadmap for creating a Latin American Medicines Agency that would lead to health self-sufficiency and guarantee access to quality, safe and effective medicines for the region.

In his remarks, and on behalf of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said, "We do not want to forget the lessons of the pandemic [...] we risk facing something similar again at any moment."

Therefore, he asked the region's leaders for their support in speeding up the Latin American Medicines Agency. "We are going to call a meeting in early February, if Ralph Gonsalves (Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) supports us, in order to pick up the pace and be ready in case we have a health emergency in the near future," he said.

Alejandro Svarch, head of the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (Cofepris), explained the steps that must be taken in the short, medium and long term to achieve health self-sufficiency. These include:

  1. Achieving regulatory convergence and mutual acceptance of health authorizations, in order to guarantee effective access to health supplies. 
  2. Creating incentives for and facilitating the research and development of innovative projects providing regulatory certainty throughout the region.
  3. Supporting local production and the integration of regional supply chains and health products.
  4. Exploring public procurement mechanisms for medicines to guarantee access and sustainable financing, while prioritizing self-sufficiency, such as contracting with regional manufacturers.

To date, the countries that have expressed their intention to participate are Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica and Mexico.

In addition, the Latin American agency will also focus on education and exchanging information on regulatory issues, to develop professionals in health regulation, exchange knowledge on regulatory convergence and improve the analytical capacities of national laboratories.

The proposal to create this regional agency is the result of the plan for health self-sufficiency designed by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac) and presented during the 2021 Celac Summit in Mexico City. It represents a partnership between the Latin American and Caribbean health agencies and industry.