Filling Prescription Drugs in Mexico
The US Department of State recommends not to travel to Mexico for the sole purpose of filling prescription drugs. According to the U.S. Embassy, the Mexican Police can arrest foreigners in possession of illegal drugs. As a result, the foreign resident must hold a valid doctor’s prescription, and have it filled by a licensed Mexican pharmacist.
Medical tourism is a booming industry, and prescription drug savings in Mexico are a niche attracting more and more people. For example, a three-month supply of insulin can cost nearly $4,000 in the United States. While that same amount costs as little as $600 which is big savings in Mexico. The exorbitant cost of insulin in the United States is a big problem, as people have a limited supply (as they can’t afford how much they need), resulting in complications from diabetes that would otherwise be avoided. The United States government states that approximately 1,000,000 people from California alone go to Mexico each year for reasons such as these.
Prescription Drugs in Mexico
Not to mention there are a lot of beautiful things to do and see in Mexico, making it not only a cost-saving endeavor but a fun weekend vacation for the family. Just remember that if you plan to take a medical tourism trip to Mexico, you’ll need to purchase Mexican Auto Insurance – as US auto policies are not recognized by Mexican officials.
This industry is so lucrative, that recently in Utah the Public Employee Health Plan implemented a Pharmacy Tourism Program. Certain members of the PEHP who use expensive prescription medications are eligible to have PEHP pay to fly themselves and a companion to San Diego and then drive to a hospital in Tijuana. Then they can retrieve a 90-day supply of their medicine.
Many people will be asking themselves whether or not this practice is legal, as it is not too far away from drug trafficking in a sense. According to the FDA, it is illegal for people to bring drugs into the US for personal use. However, the FDA’s website offers guidelines about exceptions to this rule. Despite the grey area in terms of legality, going to Mexico for pharmaceutical drug savings is a very common practice.
Not coincidentally, some recent arrests of U.S. citizens getting medicine in Mexico. In the worst case, offenders impersonating polices may extort money. But, under a rightful arrest, those caught are often held for the full 48 hours allowed by Mexican law without charges being filed.
During this 48-hour period, detainees are often bribed or solicited by attorneys who demand large fees to secure their release.
According to the US government, nearly thirty percent (30%) of Mexico prescriptions are fake. At the very least they are cheap. Such artificial medications may be difficult to recognize from real pills and could pose serious health risks to customers. The Chinese are famous for sending bogus drugs through the Mexican ports.
Bringing Back Prescriptions from Mexico
Although bringing prescription medicine back across the border is technically a violation of FDA policy, the general enforcement is that a 90-day supply is acceptable. It’s likely that the FDA has too many other things on its plate to worry about persecuting people for doing something just to save a little money, that doesn’t do harm to anyone.
Another perspective the FDA has is that they cannot guarantee the safety and purity of prescription drugs purchased in Mexico, raising some health concerns. However, the PEHP in Utah only sends their patients to certified Mexican hospitals, so this is most likely a non-issue.
In Conclusion, it is legal to import prescriptions from Mexico. U.S. law generally allows persons to enter the United States with about one month’s supply.
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