Guatemalan businessman Fernando Jarquin Pira quietly makes donations to first responders and patients

Fernando Jarquin Pira owns a pharmaceutical distribution company in Guatemala and has invested a significant portion of his personal resources to philanthropy since 1995.
Fernando Jarquin Pira, who runs a pharmaceutical distribution company in Guatemala and has invested a significant portion of his personal resources to philanthropy since 1995, has donated critical medications and paid for treatments of families in dire need as an expression of good citizenship.

Jarquin, a successful and respected businessman and philanthropist in Guatemala, founded Agefinsa (Agencia Farmaceutica Internacional, Sociedad Anonima) in 1995. 

Jarquin’s company markets and distributes pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to customers throughout Central America. Jarquin also runs two other companies, Products Valparaiso and Iberfarma, which also are in the pharmaceutical industry.

Agefinsa, the second largest pharmaceutical distributor in Guatemala, also sells medical supplies. Agefinsa represents mainly European pharmaceutical manufacturers. Within Guatemala, Agefinsa has a reputation for integrity.

Jarquin founded Iberfarma, S.A. in 1996. Iberfarma sells and distributes drugs directly to private, public and hospital pharmacies. Jarquin’s other company, Products Valparaiso, sells dairy products, dairy equipment, stoves and fireplaces.

The marketplace for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies in Guatemala is not unlike the system in other Central and South American countries. In Guatemala, the government controls health care. Government agencies provide health care to the majority of the people.

Because the Guatemalan health care model centralizes all health care through the central government, one of Jarquin’s key customers is the government of Guatemala. Within the government, Jarquin - through Agefinsa - sells medicine directly to two agencies: Ministerio de Salud y el Instituto Guatemalteco de Seguirida Social (IGSS) and the Guatemalan Ministry of Public Health (MPH).

In the Guatemalan pharmaceutical market, the largest distributor is J.I. Cohen, Sociedad Anonima. Cohen represents mostly American-produced pharmaceuticals.

Tranexamic acid donations

Since the launch of Agefinsa in 1995, Jarquin has donated millions of dollars worth of medications. One example is tranexamic acid.

Against a host of health care challenges in Guatemala, one in particular stands out. Guatemala does not have enough blood to meet the demands of transfusion patients. A special drug called tranexamic acid reduces the risk of death in people with severe bleeding. It is most effective during the first few hours after a trauma that causes bleeding occurs.

Over the years, Jarquin and Agefinsa have made significant donations of tranexamic acid to help severe trauma patients. The donations go directly to paramedics and hospitals.

“In Guatemala, too many people injured in traumatic accidents bleed to death,” Jarquin said. “We ran a long-term research study into the problem. The results of our study pointed to a significant and specific problem: first responders and even hospitals didn’t have tranexamic acid on hand. Without, people can die within hours of a traumatic accident. With it, many survive.”

Guatemala has a high number of automobile accidents, which is a major cause of the type of trauma that would require a medicine like tranexamic acid. However, the death rate from automobile accidents in Guatemala is 9 per 100,000. By comparison, the rate is 10 per 100,000 in the United States.

In 2011, the World Health Organization listed tranexamic acid in its Model List of Essential Medicines.

The story of Matthew Valladares

In addition to donating medication, Jarquin often quietly helps individual families who cannot afford treatment. One example is Matthew Valladares.

Children hold a special place in Jarquin’s heart, and he often helps families with sick children.

“As a father of three, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a sick child with nowhere to turn,” Jarquin said.

Ana Lucia Valladares Menchu became an orphan after the 1976 earthquake. She was raised by a family in La Floresta. She now works as an English teacher.

Ana has three children. Matthew is the smallest; he was born with a hormone deficiency. His body does not produce enough human growth hormone (HGH). As a result, Matthew’s weight is low, his bones are fragile and he has problems with his eyesight.

HGH is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. During childhood, HGH is responsible for growing the body. In adulthood, HGH helps to maintain organs and body tissue.

Desperate to help her son, Ana Lucia wrote a letter directly to Jarquin. She pleaded for a discount on any drug that could help Matthew.

Jarquin responded. However, he didn’t just offer her a discount. He paid for Matthew’s entire treatment.

“In Matthew’s case, his family ran out of options,” Jarquin said. “When I received Ana’s letter, my heart went out to the family. I decided to act immediately.”

As a result of his treatment, Matthew grew eight inches. According to his doctors, his body accepted the medication with no side effects.

Matthew is now active in football and swimming.

Jarquin lives in Guatemala City. He has three children and is married to Ileana del pilar Morales Ponce de Jarquin.