State Department warns of counterfeit pills sold in Mexican pharmacies

US Department of State issued a warning after a report revealed counterfeit pharmaceuticals containing illicit drugs were being sold in pharmacies in Mexico.

The counterfeit drugs contained substances such as fentanyl and methamphetamine, the department said. Details about counterfeit pills were first reported by the Los Angeles Times. The department said the DEA also reported counterfeit prescriptions sold on both sides of the border, presented as OxyContin, Percocet, Xanax and others.

The department said in its bulletin that people should “be careful when purchasing drugs,” noting that pharmaceuticals, even those that may require a prescription in the United States, are “often readily available for purchase with little regulation.”

In addition to the risk of infection, officials said counterfeit medicines could “be ineffective” or have the wrong dosage.

“Medicines should be purchased in consultation with a healthcare professional and from reputable institutions,” the department said, noting that counterfeit medicines are “easily advertised on social media and can be purchased from small brick-and-mortar pharmacies in Mexico along the border and in tourist areas.”

The kidnapping of four Americans earlier this month in a Mexican border town has also drawn attention to “medical tourism,” in which people travel to another country to get more affordable medical care or prescriptions. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not track medical tourism-related crimes, they consider the practice “risky”.

A 2015 US International Trade Commission study (USITC) found that about a million people from California traveled to Mexico to buy drugs at lower prices.

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