Lawmakers call for Mexico travel advisory over reported counterfeit drug sales

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference
Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers meeting, Thursday, March 2, 2023, in New Delhi.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) on Monday called on the State Department to issue a travel advisory warning Americans about the dangers of buying pharmaceuticals from some Mexican pharmacies.

“We write to urge the State Department, which plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of Americans traveling abroad, to immediately issue a travel advisory warning of the dangers of buying adulterated pharmaceuticals from Mexican pharmacies,” the lawmakers wrote.

In a joint letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the lawmakers cited multiple reports that documented how some pharmacies in popular tourist locations in Mexico were selling counterfeit prescription drugs that were laced with fentanyl and methamphetamine. They wrote that that this puts unsuspecting American customers, who may be traveling to the country to access cheaper medication, at risk of overdose and death.

“We must continue to work to reduce the incentives for Americans to travel abroad because cheaper medication is available there, ensure we have adequate tools at home to combat substance use disorder, and ultimately reduce the demand for opioids and other drugs that are fueling our epidemic,” the lawmakers wrote.

Markey and Trone asked Blinken whether the State Department has considered putting such a travel advisory in place and whether the department will work with other agencies to reduce incentives for Americans traveling to Mexico to buy cheaper drugs.

They requested answers by March 30.

The Los Angeles Times last month reported pharmacies in several northwestern cities were selling the laced prescription drugs and marketing them as as “legitimate pharmaceuticals.” Reporters for the newspaper “found that pills sold as oxycodone tested positive for fentanyl, while pills sold as Adderall tested positive for methamphetamine.”

The investigation ultimately found that 71 percent of the 17 pills they collected tested positive for stronger drugs.

A study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles had similar results, finding that 11 different pharmacies into northwest Mexico were selling drugs with traces of fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine. The researchers also found that 68 percent of the 40 pharmacies had “at least one controlled substance for sale without a prescription, either in bottles or individual pills.”

Tags Antony Blinken Antony Blinken David Trone Ed Markey Ed Markey Mexico state department

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