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Luis Fernando Oliveros

MEXICO - Health & Education

Double-digit growth for past two years

Vice President and General Manager, Medtronic Mexico


Luis Fernando Oliveros has been the Vice President and General Manager of Medtronic in Mexico since 2015, with over 22 years of experience in the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices sector. He holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from the Universidad Iberoamericana, as well as an MBA from IPADE.

"The role of medical devices is an important one not only in the treatment of patients, but also in production and exportation."

What role can medical devices play as a driver for the Mexican economy?

The role of medical devices is an important one not only in the treatment of patients, but also in production and exportation. Medical devices represent a technological transformation in health care. Mexico is the largest exporter of medical devices in Latin America and the ninth largest in the world, larger than Germany and Italy. We still have potential to become number two or number three. The capabilities we have built as a country in terms of manufacturing in the past few years in the automotive and the aerospace industries are now spilling over the medical device industry. Why not embark on a much larger journey to remake the medical devices industry into one relevant to the country, not only in terms of patients, but also as a driver for the economy?

How can inefficiencies in the healthcare system be mitigated by innovations in medical devices?

Our focus is on turning technological improvements into something that makes sense for the patient as well as for the healthcare system as a whole. As an example, now we have a way to monitor patients with pacemakers without having the patient coming into the clinic. Still, today many patients who have a pace maker will need to go to a specialized hospital that you can only find in the major cities in Mexico. Having this service provided remotely will have a huge impact on the economy and the people affected by these ailments. We have a device that can monitor the patient in their house and you can tell which patients are the ones that truly need to visit the hospital. We want to look at total costs of intervention healthcare and work together to streamline that cost to make sure you will be able to service more patients with the best help.

What are the biggest challenges that you are facing now in terms of adding value to and expanding the manufacturing of medical devices in Mexico?

pharmaceuticals when referring to the healthcare industry, but the level of complexity and development is totally different. Developing a molecule is tough but once you have the molecule developed it is just about commercializing the product. This is not the same as medical devices, where you develop the device and then you need to train the physicians and nurses on how to use it. You even need to train the patient because at the end you need to have a follow up after the surgery. Pharma has a specific role in the treatment cycle, but when you have surgery you need a medical device. Developing the purchasing, regulatory, and quality processes for medical devices is different, and that is where we are struggling. We need to ensure that the regulatory agencies understands this. We need to show and demonstrate that using medical devices can help optimize therapies. The entire healthcare chain improves with the correct introduction of medical devices.

What is the Mexican market’s role in Medtronic’s growth in Latin America?

We have been growing at strong double-digit rates in Mexico for the last two years and the potential is even higher. We need to invest to further develop the market, as we feel like we haven’t really scratched the surface yet. Growing strong double digit is an achievement and I am happy with my team has accomplished; however, the base is small. We need to grow faster than Latin America in the next 3-5 years. We need to also build and invest in the country and conditions to make sure that the growth is not only maintained but it is accelerated to a level where it should be. Mexico has not been among the top recipients of pharmaceutical and medical device investment in the last 10 years. You will see investment going to Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama or Colombia. This is because we haven’t really positioned Mexico as the strategic market that it should be.

What should be the priorities to increase the investment attractiveness?

The first one is education. In general, physicians get acquainted with technology a little late in their careers. The new ways that we are treating medicine are not taught in Mexican universities. One way to solve that is to design an education plan that allows physicians to be exposed to technology at the resident stage. The second one is infrastructure. Patients who need an intervention do not have access to the right infrastructure. We need to work with the government and private companies to invest in infrastructure. We are talking about building small facilities with the newest technology in every city so people can access them.

How do you envision the impact of NAFTA renegotiations on the medical devices sector?

Medtronic is actively working in the renegotiation group and through AMID, the Mexican Association of Innovation in Medical Devices. My perspective is that the relationship between the US and Mexico has worked well. There are opportunities for upgrading the deal, but I don’t think there should be major changes. At this point in time, we don’t see a risk. If there is an increase in taxation for of products going out of Mexico to the US and Canada, they would be breaking the supply chain they have had built for years. At the end, if we need to pay more and raise prices, patients will not be happy. This is why local manufacturing is a key strategy for us. We cannot put the patient at risk whenever we have these headwinds coming. We need to have a strategy that is not volatile.

What is your outlook and expectations for the next year?

I believe that 2018 will be a challenging year. It is an election year and there would be money out there in public investment. Nevertheless, this may be jeopardized because of the reconstruction effort that we need to embark in as a country after the earthquakes, which of course is priority number one. This can affect the inflow of money in the health system. There are many aspects of the economy and the social environment that will make 2018 a tough year, but when you compare the size of the opportunities we have particularly in health care, all the things that we can see in terms of innovation and investment, and taking a leadership role to be at the forefront of making health care a central piece of the strategy as a country, we are planning to continue making significant progress in 2018. In general, I think we will continue having strong double-digit growth. We embarked on a five year plan in Mexico and this is moving forward regardless of NAFTA, the exchange rate, or elections, because that’s the essence of our strategic plan; therefore, we are going to have a good year in 2018.



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