According to a February 24 report in Tijuana's daily Frontera, the city is on the verge of losing a thousand farmacias.
According to the article, about 5000 pharmacies currently exist in Tijuana (other publications use the same figure; others peg it closer to 2000). Due to the perception of widespread violence in TJ, lengthy waits at the border, and the recently imposed controls on the sale of antibiotics (the insistence that a prescription be required for their purchase), some 20 percent of the drug shops are reportedly suffering an unsustainable lack of sales.
Julián Palombo, president of the Asociación de Empresarios Farmacéuticos de México (an association of pharmaceutical-related businesses), said that many of the pharmacies, usually independently operated, are facing bankruptcy. Palombo also mentioned that extortion of tourists by police and restrictions placed on the use of U.S. dollars made a big dent in the sale of pharmaceuticals last year.
Many farmacias reported losses of 60 to 80 percent in sales in the last months of 2010, while dozens opted to close their doors. Since the start of the new year, sales have failed to recover, even though the flu season is in full swing and, statistically, usually bodes well for medicine sales . This year, such sales are not happening.
Palombo feels that part of the problem may be that potential customers in the U.S. believe that the restrictions on antibiotic sales apply to all medications. He wants an informational campaign launched in both Mexico and the U.S., at a national level, in order to inform the public of the facts regarding drug purchases made in Mexico.
Palombo pointed out that the American consumer is the “natural consumer” for the Mexican pharmaceutical industry and that rapid actions must be taken in order to insure that the American market for Mexican medicine does not dry up.