Medications from Mexico

Medications from Mexico – Americans purchasing medications from pharmacies in Mexico

Medications from Mexico An estimated 100,000 Americans purchase medications from pharmacies in Mexico every year. Although Mexican authorities mandate a physician’s prescription to purchase many medications, most drugs can be easily purchased without any guidance from health professionals. Drugs readily available in Mexican pharmacies are not limited to conventional therapeutic agents. Many are not approved in the United States or are seldom prescribed because of concerns about efficacy or toxicity. Many patients purchase drugs that are not appropriate for their conditions. Physicians who practice near the U.S.-Mexican border have serious concerns about this potential health hazard.

Tabet and Wiese surveyed 35 patients attending a public rural clinic and 36 patients from an urban private practice in New Mexico to assess the use of medications purchased in Mexico. The survey was conducted by bilingual nurses, and responses were confidential.

The two groups differed significantly in demographics and in medication use. The clinic patients were more likely to be Hispanic, to speak Spanish, to not have an American citizenship and to have less education than the patients surveyed from the private practice. Compared with the patients in the urban practice, a smaller percentage of patients from the rural practice reported having purchased medication anywhere during the previous two months. Of the clinic patients who purchased drugs, 87 percent reported purchasing drugs in Mexico within the past two months. In contrast, only 6 percent of the private practice patients who had purchased medications anywhere reported purchasing medications in Mexico within the same period.

The clinic patients reported purchasing an average of five different medications in Mexico during the previous two months. Most of the clinic patients could not identify or could not remember the names of the medications that they purchased. Of those who could remember, about half knew that they had purchased antibiotics. Cost was the principal reason for buying medications in Mexico. When a time limit was not specified, 80 percent of the clinic patients and 22 percent of the practice patients reported that they had purchased medications in Mexico at some time in the past.

The authors believe that health profesionals who practice in border areas need to be aware of the significant number of patients who purchase medications from Mexican pharmacies, particularly since many of these agents may have significant toxicity. Patients need to be educated concerning the problems that can arise from purchasing medications in Mexico. (Sourthern Medical Journal, March 1990, vol. 83, p. 271).

COPYRIGHT 1990 American Academy of Family Physicians

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group