US warns of counterfeit, dangerous pills being sold in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — The US State Department has issued a travel advisory about dangerous counterfeit pills sold in pharmacies in Mexico that often contain fentanyl.

The travel advisory issued on Friday says Americans “should exercise caution when buying medications in Mexico.”

Small pharmacies in tourist areas and border regions sometimes sell drugs advertised as OxyContin, Percocet, Xanax, and others without a prescription.

The State Department warned that such pills are often counterfeit and “could contain deadly doses of fentanyl.”

“Counterfeit pills are easily promoted on social media and can be bought in small off-chain pharmacies in Mexico along the border and in tourist areas,” it said.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found that 68% of the 40 Mexican pharmacies visited in four cities in northern Mexico sold oxycodone, Xanax or Adderall and that 27% of these pharmacies sold counterfeit pills.

UCLA said the study, published in January, found that “open pharmacies in northern Mexican tourist towns sell counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine. These pills are sold primarily to US tourists and are often passed off as controlled substances such as oxycodone, Percocet and Adderall.”

“These counterfeit pills pose a serious overdose risk for buyers who believe they are receiving a known amount of a weaker drug,” said Chelsea Shover, assistant professor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the problem exists in beach towns like Playa del Carmen and Tulum, not just border towns.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on whether Americans had overdosed or died as a result of Mexico’s drug sales.

A State Department spokesman wrote in response to the request, “The U.S. Department of State has no higher priority than ensuring the safety of U.S. citizens abroad so that they can make informed travel decisions.” US warns of counterfeit, dangerous pills being sold in Mexico

Laura Coffey

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