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 Purchasing Medications / Medicines in Mexico

Prescription Drugs and Pharmacies in Mexico

Many Americans and Canadians take advantage of Mexico�s low prices on medications when visiting Mexico. The laws of supply, demand and what the market will bear, helps create the high prices in the US. Drug manufacturing companies set the highest price they believe that a given national market can handle.

For decades, people have been border-hopping the Mexican border to farmacias (pharmacies) to save on medications. Though many pharmacies in Mexico sell prescription drugs over the counter (without a prescription), according to the U.S. Consulate office in Tijuana, it is illegal to fill a prescription in M�xico without a prescription from a doctor in M�xico. Now, Mexican authorities are beginning to crack down on such commerce. In August of 2010 the Mexican government announced further restrictions on the sale of antibiotics over the counter as a result of many people self-medicating improperly during the swine flu epidemic.

The tightening of M�xico�s over-the-counter medications is in part a response to an increase in drug-resistant strains of infectious diseases. Patients without a physician�s supervision take improper doses of antibiotics, and diseases begin to mutate into stronger varieties that doctors cannot treat with existing vaccines or antibiotics. It is still possible to purchase medications (both over-the-counter and prescription) from a Mexican pharmacy for a fraction of the cost in the United States�a fact that can be quite attractive for those facing tough economic times.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows border officials to use discretion when it comes to prescription medication, but be prepared for trouble if you�re trying to import narcotic drugs for recreational use and always have a prescription for the meds to show if asked. Many pharmacies in Mexico have a doctor on staff or next door who charges a few dollars for a basic consultation.

If you are buying over-the-counter drugs from a pharmacy or ordering from an online pharmacy, it is difficult to know the quality or authenticity of said medication, and you run the risk of purchasing a medication with the wrong ingredients, or lack of active ingredients�just another reason that it�s important to get a prescription. If you are buying a name brand, the potency will assuredly be higher than that of a generic drug, but will also be more expensive. With a name brand, you will be assured that the medication has undergone years of testing, made in a quality control environment, with the right ingredients prepared at the proper temperatures etc.

This writer more than once purchased generic antibiotics from a Mexican chain store supplier of generics that had doctors available for consultations. The doctors were fine. The generic medications were a waste of time and money as they seemed too weak to cure my infected kidney or a year later my bronchitis. After weeks of suffering using generics to no avail, I bit the bullet, paid the price and bought name brand meds that cured my illnesses.

It's not a good idea to play doctor by self-diagnosing your illness. Lab tests, medical consultations and treatments are quite affordable in Mexico so you don't have to worry about having cardiac arrest after receiving a bill for an office visit. If you are looking for a simple consultation and a prescription to be refilled � many large pharmacies provide basic consultations and prescriptions for several dollars via a doctor next door. Serious conditions should be addressed by medical specialists who have clinics in larger Mexican cities and charge $35-$50 for a consultation, exam and prescription.

Many clinics like Cabo Cosmetic Dental and Cabo Cosmetic Surgery in Baja California Sur, offer free online consultations but are limited to prescribing antibiotics or pain killers to be taken for a few days prior to a scheduled medical treatment and cannot diagnose illnesses online. An online consultation should never be used as a substitute for an in-person clinical examination, especially if one has a potentially life-threatening medical condition. You can save substantial money on medications in Mexico, but keep a doctor in the loop to be sure you are getting the proper meds and know the right dosages.

(The above information was kindly provided by David Mandich,

Can I purchase prescription drugs in Mexico and bring them back into the United States? The Basics:

There are regulations for bringing in pharmaceuticals from Mexico, however they are changing on a constant basis. Although many drugs in Mexico are available over the counter at a pharmacy, certain prescription drugs in Mexico do require a prescription from a Mexican pharmacist, and foreigners have been known to purchase them from people not authorized to issue them. You can be arrested in Mexico if caught buying drugs without the proper prescription and the penalties are stiff, up to 25 years in jail in Mexico.

A prescription is needed when purchasing a controlled substance. This includes painkillers, tranquilizers, and some diet pills. A prescription from a U.S. doctor is not enough. Mexican law requires a prescription from a Mexican physician, and that prescription must have the seal of the state health department.

The pharmacist in Mexico is required to keep the original prescription, but you should make sure you don't leave the store with a copy for yourself. Also, if you're in doubt about the classification of your medication, if it's a controlled substance, the pharmacist will have the official pharmaceutical book with that information.

Many drugs that require a prescription in the U.S. can be bought over the counter in Mexico, such as antibiotics, anti-depresants, birth control pills and heart medications. Techincally these drugs do require a presciption but the law is routinely ignored.

Bringing Medications Back Into The U.S. The Basics:

According to the U.S. Customs, to bring back prescription drugs into the U.S. you must have a prescription written by a physician licensed in the United States, have it in its original packaging and carry no more than a three-month supply AND you must declare them. If you are caught trying to bring in drugs without the above requirements you can be stopped, have your goods confiscated and may be arrested.

Get the full up-to-date details from the U.S. State Department web site at

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