The Same But Cheaper, However 23 Mexican Pharmacies Shut Down For Illegal Drug Sales To Tourists.

Photo credit: Roberto Armocida. Many discount pharmacies target some sales at US tourists. This one claims "The Same But Better."
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Ever since a story broke in the Los Angeles Times, as well as in local publications, about the risk to tourists at Los Cabos pharmacies, authorities in Mexico have carrying out detailed compliance checks on  pharmacies and enforcing policies to ensure customers are safe from dangerous or contaminated drugs, says the Cabo Sun.

The Los Angeles Times article created an international firestorm on both sides of the border. Even Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador got involved in the conversation, saying Mexico did not sell fentanyl.

The Los Angeles Times article included a quotation from an anonymous post on TripAdvisor from May 25th, 2020 under the heading “Cabo pharmacies selling fentanyl laced pills.” The person posting under the moniker Spreadingfacts wrote, “My brother passed away last year after buying pills at a pharmacy in Cabo.”

Over several posts, the writer said their brother died after buying what he thought were Oxycontin pills. When his blood was tested it revealed the deadly presence of fentanyl. The pharmacy concerned was not named.

That unleashed a series of surprise inspections locally by the Baja California Sur State Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks.

According to the Ministry of Health of the Government of Mexico, any pharmacy caught selling cut pills without proper government authorization can be fined 180,000 pesos (about $9,000 dollars) to risk being completely shut down.

Now Latin Times reports that 23 pharmacies in coastal towns in Northern Mexico have been shuttered for breaches of regulations.

Irregular sales were found at the 23 drug stores, said Mexico’s Navy Department, adding the pharmacies usually sold the pills only to tourists. These pharmacies often advertised such pills, and also offered home delivery services for them.

During the raid that was conducted last week, the Navy also found outdated medications, some of them which had no record of the supplier. There were also blank or unsigned prescription forms.

This comes after the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning in March about sales of such pills–a practice that seems to be widespread in Mexico. The department had said the pills sold at pharmacies in Mexico “may contain deadly doses of fentanyl.”

A four-day inspection raid had examined pharmacies in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

Back in March, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning about sales of such pills, and the practice appears to be widespread.

In February, the University of California, Los Angeles announced that researchers there had found that 68% of the 40 Mexican pharmacies visited in four northern Mexico cities sold Oxycodone, Xanax or Adderall without doctor’s prescriptions.


UCLA said the paper, published in January, also found that 27% of “brick and mortar pharmacies in Northern Mexican tourist towns are selling counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine. These pills are sold mainly to US tourists, and claimed to be opiates or amphetamines such as Percocet, Oxycodone, and Adderall.”

The U.S. State Department published a travel warnin glast  March stating that counterfeit pills on sale at retail pharmacies in Mexico “may contain deadly doses of fentanyl”, something that is hotly denied by Mexican pharmacy regulators.

Sources: Latin Times, Mexican Navy, Wikipedia,, UCLA, news agencies.
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