Traveling in Mexico? Use caution when buying medications there, cautions 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, non-chain 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.
“The U.S. Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas. We take seriously our commitment to provide U.S. citizens with clear, timely, and reliable information about every country in the world so they can make informed travel decisions,” the agency told the AP.
UCLA researchers published a preprint study in January after visiting four northern Mexico cities.
Researchers found 68% of 40 Mexican pharmacies sold Oxycodone, Xanax or Adderall. About 27% of those pharmacies sold fake pills.
“Brick and mortar pharmacies in Northern Mexican tourist towns are selling counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine. These pills are sold mainly to U.S. tourists, and are often passed off as controlled substances such as Oxycodone, Percocet and Adderall,” according to the study.
“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, an assistant professor-in-residence of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, told the AP.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on fentanyl.
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