(Photo by Spencer Platt/Staff via Getty Images)
OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 1:15 PM – Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Mexican pharmacies have notoriously been a hotspot for American tourists looking to purchase pharmaceutical medication or other healthcare services at only a fraction of the cost that they are typically priced at in the United States.
However, there are reports of many cases of overdose due to the pharmacies selling medications that appear to be safe at first glance but are, in fact, commonly laced with heroin, methamphetamines, and deadly fentanyl.
New research has come out and concluded that many of the examined medications in the study purchased legally in four northern Mexican cities contained dangerous and controversial substances, unbeknownst to the consumer.
“For pills sold as oxycodone, we tested 27 and found 10 or 11 of them contained either fentanyl or heroin,” said Chelsea Shover, a UCLA School of Medicine researcher.
Shover says that unsuspecting people purchasing these unregulated medications are at high risk of overdose and even death.
“When I see there are fentanyl pills somewhere that look like prescription drugs, I know there have to have been people who’ve died from that,” stated Shover.
Even though Mexico’s own citizens also partake in purchasing these medications and bringing business to the pharmacies, their main clientele typically tends to be Americans looking for low-cost alternatives.
Two lawmakers, David Trone and Edward J. Markey, mailed a letter to the U.S. State Department and Congress asking for a travel advisory in order to warn U.S. citizens of the dangers of buying medications from Mexican pharmacies.
“We should be absolutely very concerned… We have almost 12 million Americans visiting Mexico every year.” said Representative David Trone (D-Md.), one of the authors of the letter sent to Congress.
Trone says that Mexican pharmacies could be adding these substances into their pills in order to create more dependence and addiction, which ultimately drives consumers to come back wanting more.
It is essentially a profit-boosting tactic and consumers are vulnerable and unaware of what is really happening behind the scenes.
The Los Angeles Times reported on March 11th that State Department officials apparently knew about the threats posed by these Mexican pharmacies as far back as 2019, yet they made no mention of it in any high-profile alert or statement to U.S. travelers.
Trone repeatedly said that travelers should have been warned sooner that these dangerously risky medications were being sold at legal markets.
“We’ve heard nothing back (from the State Department) and it’s very frustrating,” he said.
The State Department has now posted an advisory online regarding Mexico that encourages travelers to exercise caution when purchasing medications overseas.
“Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients,” states the advisory.
However, it still fails to mention the specific risks of consuming fentanyl-laced medications that are often sold at these legally-operating pharmacies.
This news also comes at a time when four Americans were kidnapped by gunmen earlier this month while journeying through Mexico in order to find inexpensive medical care. Two out of the four kidnapped travelers, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown, had been killed.
A week later, the Mexican drug cartel penned an apology letter, taking responsibility for the murders and insisting that a few of their members had mistaken the identities of the travelers for someone else and that they would turn their men in to the Mexican authorities.
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