Mexico’s National Commission for Health and Sanitation (Cofepris) confirmed over the weekend that thousands of oncological medication units were stolen from the government’s Novag pharmaceutical warehouse.
According to Cofepris, the robbery took place in the early hours of Sunday, Oct. 4, by a group of 10 to 15 people.
The total number of stolen medications came to 37 956 units, the commission said, the majority of which were intended for pediatric cancer patients.
During his Monday. Oct. 12, morning press conference, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) addressed the robbery, saying that he regretted the incident and would follow up on the criminal investigation.
The medical supplies were bought from an Argentinian pharmaceutical, he explained.
In order to provide cheaper and more viable pharmaceutical products to patients, AMLO said that the Mexican government has “sought out to alternative foreign markets” for its supply chains.
For the past year, cancer patients’ relatives have demonstrated against López Obrador’s because of a dire shortage of cancer treatment in the country, specifically for children.
AMLO’s administration dismantled the previous government’s supply chain structure, which secured 97 percent of all public health medications.
Throughout the administrative changes, the federal government has failed to supply key medications to critically ill patients.
Since the months-long dismantling, the government has only been able to meet about 60 percent of the current demand for public health medications, leading to the tragic deaths of countless patients.
The robbery has only exacerbated the ongoing medication shortage, further jeopardizing the treatment of cancer patients nationwide.
During his press conference, AMLO said that his government is trying to remedy the problem and to obtain more medications.
“To the parents of children who have cancer, we promise we are constantly trying to fulfill the demand,” he said.
“We are not inhumane. We understand what these children and others are suffering because they do not have the medications they need.”
Mexican Public Health Undersecretary Hugo Lopez Gatell later added that the robbery would not lead to a shortage in the medications in question, noting that the stolen oncological medicines were from a single shipment from the multiple providers the country counts on to fulfill its demand.
Proper investigations have been initiated, AMLO said, and federal authorities are already on the track of the alleged culprits.
Nevertheless, as of Wednesday, Oct. 14, no suspects have been linked to the crime.