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Mexican medical companies fined nearly 2 billion pesos for illegal contract practices

Mexico City, Mexico — More than a dozen medical companies based in Mexico City have been fined for illegal contracts and other irregularities. The companies fined so far are only a part of the more than two dozen open investigations.

The Ministry of Public Administration (SFP), Roberto Salcedo Aquino, made the announcement Wednesday morning during the Presidential press conference. Aquino said the investigations and subsequent fines are part of the agency’s zero corruption policy.

He reported that the SFP has fined 13 of 19 companies that were found engaged in acts of collusion while providing comprehensive clinical laboratory and blood bank services.

The operation consisted of agreements aimed at the illegal distribution of contracts based on the omission of data so that the company or companies that had previously agreed would win.

In addition, six of the 19 companies were found guilty of monopolistic practices, the official explained.

The SFP sanctions consisted of 24 disqualifications of between one and seven years to participate in public bidding procedures and fines that reach almost two billion pesos.

As for the remaining six companies, 23 investigations are underway, he said.

Of the fines handed out, eight are firm and 16 are pending judicial resolution after the company, in use of their legal rights, filed means of defense and other delaying tactics to prevent penalties.

This situation allows the companies that committed irregularities to continue participating in the contracting procedures because it is not legal to prevent them from doing so until a legal resolution is made, he explained.

To counter this, the Ministry of Public Administration is reviewing the documentation of the bidders in search of any anomalous situation or simulation. Additionally, a legislative reform project that allows the identification of the final beneficiaries of the operations is being looked into.

“In order to ensure the best conditions for the state in compliance with Article 134 of the Constitution and thus increase the quality of health services at ISSSTE, a process is underway so that the clinical laboratory and blood bank study services are being provided directly by the Institute,” he said.

The Ministry of Public Administration promotes and guides companies in the implementation of internal controls and integrity programs, for which reason it makes the Business Integrity Register available.

“With the controls that are applied in the bidding and contracting processes and with the implementation of the integrity register, the Ministry of Public Function acts to guarantee that medical services are carried out effectively and honestly,” he said.

The General Director of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), Zoé Robledo Aburto, explained that the public tender was redesigned in order not to limit the participation of interested parties, which means that the services were divided into a greater number of items to in order to encourage the participation of local companies.

At the same time, the requirement for a letter of support from the manufacturer of medical equipment was eliminated, since this only allowed the participation of large companies through prior agreements with the manufacturers.

The IMSS has detected the interest in participating from companies that have been sanctioned by the Ministry of Public Function, however, the law is strict and proposals cannot be evaluated under any circumstances with companies that are prevented or disqualified, he explained.

The current situation of public bidding for clinical laboratory and blood bank services allows the participation of international, national and local companies under a rigorous legal, technical and economic evaluation. The rulings are scheduled for July.