The United States warns of the sale of counterfeit and dangerous pills in Mexico

The US State Department has issued a travel advisory about dangerous counterfeit pills sold in pharmacies in Mexico that often contain fentanyl.

The travel advisory posted Friday says Americans should “exercise caution when purchasing medications in Mexico.”

Small pharmacies in tourist and border areas sometimes sell drugs advertised as OxyContin, Percocet, Xanax, and others without a prescription.

The State Department warned that such pills are often counterfeit and “may contain lethal doses of fentanyl”.

“Fake pills are easily advertised on social media and can be purchased at small non-chain pharmacies in Mexico along the border and in tourist areas,” she added.

A study led by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that 68% of 40 Mexican pharmacies visited in four cities in northern Mexico sold oxycodone, Xanax, or Adderall, and 27% of those pharmacies were selling fake pills.

Pharmacies in tourist areas sometimes sell medications advertised as OxyContin, Percocet, and Xanax without a prescription.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

UCLA said the study, published in January, found that “brick-and-mortar pharmacies in northern Mexican tourist towns sell fake pills containing fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine.

These pills are sold primarily to American tourists, and are often passed off as controlled substances such as Oxycodone, Percocet, and Adderall.”

“These counterfeit pills present a serious risk of overdose for buyers who believe they are getting a known amount of a weaker drug,” said Chelsea Schover, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

Medicine bottle with medicine
68% of Mexican pharmacies sold oxycodone, Xanax or Adderall.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the problem is present in beach resorts like Playa del Carmen and Tulum, not just in border towns.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on whether any Americans have overdosed or died from drug sales in Mexico.

A State Department spokesperson wrote in response to the request that “The US Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens abroad. We take seriously our commitment to providing US citizens with clear, timely, and reliable information about every country in the world so that they can take action.” Informed Travel Decisions.

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