Friday, December 30, 2005

The Ultimate Drug Dealer

Dr. Simi

From the Wall Street Journal:

Victor González is a modern day hero. In a country like Mexico one can still benefit the poor and make a success at business at the same time. He has made the price of medicine affordable to near all here. And in a world were everything seems to cost more and more everyday this is like a miracle. This man has gone against the rules proving that one need not be bound by their limitations. If this man can make such a difference, it shows there is hope that others can do the same.

A few excerpts from the article are listed below here. It is important to realize that not all medical and the poor need go the way America is going with it. (Or without it)

González has created an alternative health-care system. His stores stock mostly older drugs that have lost their patent and can be copied cheaply in Mexico. He subsidizes about 1,900 clinics, catering to those who can't afford the US $30 or so that private clinics charge for a visit. Some 800,000 Mexicans visit his clinics every month, according to the Metropolitan Autonomous University. The clinics are run by a nonprofit group set up by González, and doctors keep the money paid for visits.

"Before we appeared on the scene, poor people in Mexico used to pray to the Virgin to get better because they couldn't afford the medicines," says González. "Now they come to us".

González recently opened 11 drugstores and clinics in Argentina and 36 in Central America, where he recruited Guatemalan Nobel peace prize winner Rigoberta Menchu to be a spokeswoman.

The youngest of five children, González worked for years at his family-owned drugstore chain, founded in 1875 by his greatgrandfather. Because he has a speech impediment and admits to abusing alcohol in the past, he says his family never expected him to amount to much.

As sales have grown he opened 1,248 stores last year alone. He erected billboards across Mexico saying multinationals were trying to block access to cheap medicine. "Say no to corruption. Say yes to helping the poor," the billboards read.

González says he's not worried about juggling the demands of a presidential campaign with a fast-growing company. "I'm a businessman in the morning, a politician in the afternoon, and a lover in the evening."

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