Partnership story

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Testing NGO based social marketing


In 1996, the SOMARC Project launched a pilot project to test the feasibility of using NGO community-based coordinators and promoters to increase the use of Oral Contraceptives in the peri-urban and rural areas of Mexico.

The project was a collaborative effort between SOMARC, Mexico’s National Population Council, two of Mexicos leading family planning associations, Fundación Mexicana para la Planeación Familiar, A.C. (MEXFAM) and Federación Mexicana de Asociaciones Privadas de Salud y Desarrollo,A.C. (FEMAP), and the pharmaceutical company Schering A.G. A key opportunity was presented by the approval in Mexico of Schering’s Microgynon, a low-dose combined OC, as an over-the-counter product. Therefore, both pharmacies and small stores could sell the product directly to consumers without a doctors prescription. Microgynon was the only OC product that benefited from this status. To ensure affordability, Schering agreed to provide the product to MEXFAM and FEMAP at a reduced price so that consumers could purchase a cycle for 10 pesos ($1.10), half the standard retail price. The price represented 1.2 per cent of Mexicos monthly minimum wage, a price considered affordable to the target C and D socio-economic groups. Mexico’s distribution system is well developed, and most pharmacies, even in peri-urban and rural areas, carried Microgynon, but at double the social marketing price.
In short, the project was attempting to establish a parallel distribution system for an identical product to one existing in most pharmacies, but at half the price.