The US State Department has released a travel advisory to caution American tourists about the risks of purchasing counterfeit medication, which could contain fentanyl, at pharmacies in Mexico.
The advisory, issued on Friday, urged American tourists to “exercise caution when purchasing medication in Mexico” due to the prevalence of counterfeit pills at small pharmacies located in tourist areas and border regions. These pharmacies sell drugs such as OxyContin, Percocet, Xanax, and others without prescriptions.
The State Department emphasized that such counterfeit pills are dangerous, as they may contain fatal doses of fentanyl. It also noted that these pills are often advertised on social media and are readily available for purchase at small, non-chain pharmacies in Mexico’s tourist areas and along the border.
A State Department spokesperson did not confirm whether any Americans had died or overdosed due to counterfeit drug sales in Mexico. However, the spokesperson said, “The US Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas. We take seriously our commitment to provide US citizens with clear, timely, and reliable information about every country in the world so they can make informed travel decisions.”
According to a study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 68% of the 40 pharmacies visited in four northern Mexican cities sold Oxycodone, Xanax, or Adderall, and 27% of those pharmacies were found to be selling counterfeit pills. The study, published in January, also revealed that “brick-and-mortar pharmacies in Northern Mexican tourist towns are selling counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine.”
Chelsea Shover, assistant professor-in-residence of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, warned that “these counterfeit pills represent a serious overdose risk to buyers who think they are getting a known quantity of a weaker drug.”