MONDAY, March 20, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Travelers should use caution when buying medications in Mexico, according to the U.S. State Department.
The warning was issued in response to concerns about counterfeit pills containing fentanyl being sold at pharmacies in tourist areas and border regions. “Counterfeit pills are readily advertised on social media and can be purchased at small, nonchain pharmacies in Mexico along the border and in tourist areas,” it said. Pills sold as OxyContin, Percocet, and Xanax are often counterfeit and “may contain deadly doses of fentanyl,” the State Department advised.
Among the towns where this may be happening are beach resort locations, such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum, the Associated Press reported.
UCLA researchers published a study in January after visiting four Northern Mexico cities. The study was posted on a preprint server online and has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Researchers found 68 percent of 40 Mexican pharmacies sold Oxycodone, Xanax, or Adderall. About 27 percent of those pharmacies sold fake pills.
“Brick and mortar pharmacies in Northern Mexican tourist towns are selling counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine,” the study authors write. “These pills are sold mainly to U.S. tourists, and are often passed off as controlled substances such as Oxycodone, Percocet, and Adderall.”
“These counterfeit pills represent a serious overdose risk to buyers who think they are getting a known quantity of a weaker drug,” study author Chelsea Shover, Ph.D., an assistant professor-in-residence of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, told the AP.
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