October 6, 2018 / 8:19 PM / 13 days ago

Mexican president-elect pressures drugmakers to contain prices

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Saturday urged pharmaceutical companies in the country to keep prices down or face losing out on government business to competitors abroad.

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a rally as part of a tour to thank supporters for his victory in the July 1 election, in Acapulco, Mexico, October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Javier Verdin/File Photo

During a speech in the western city of Morelia, Lopez Obrador said the government was paying too much for medicine. For the budget to be able to provide the public with free medicine, this “corruption” would have to end, he added.

Lopez Obrador, a leftist who takes office on Dec. 1, said he wanted to support the national pharmaceutical industry.

But he warned the industry his government would seek cheaper medicine elsewhere if firms overcharged and acted as “accomplices to corruption.”

“We’ll open the bidding tenders to buy medicine anywhere in the world that they offer better prices,” he added, estimating that the government spent about 100 billion pesos ($5.31 billion) on medicine each year.

Lopez Obrador, 64, won office by a landslide victory in July, and has pledged to slash public waste and corruption.

Separately, the incoming president reiterated that his government would guarantee prices for certain food products, including milk, beans and corn, in order to support farmers.

Milk would be guaranteed at 8.20 pesos per liter, beans at 14,500 pesos per tonne and corn for 5,610 pesos per tonne, he said. “We’re going to pay the producers well,” he added.

($1 = 18.8165 Mexican pesos)

Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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