Tuesday, December 16, 2014
The Plausibility of Getting Medication in Mexico
In order to clear up a misunderstanding... the interest in getting medication in Mexico is not predicated on a desire to save money nor it is to avoid getting proper prescriptions. It is because DEA and Ca. restrictions on certain medications make it impossible to get these medications under various circumstances (e.g. the pharmacy will not sell them to you) even with legitimate prescriptions.
One function of the Internet which can be said to be socially neutral is to share information among people who have a common interest, whether that interest is sailing, jihadist terrorism or getting legitimate medical help in a region of the world. This feature is certainly of positive value some of the time, but it is also of (culturally dependent) negative value other times. Clearly we do not see advice on blowing people up as positive, but those who seek to right what they see as wrongs do.
In that spirit I am going to discuss what I think I know about getting the medications I need to treat ADHD in Mexico. One of the few advantages of living in Hell is that I am near the border of Mexico. Its an hour away.
This note is not intended to aid people figure out how to get recreational drugs or anything of the sort. It is intended to be a personal journal of my attempts to get legitimately prescribed medications for a disorder that for reasons known to the DEA are difficult to get in this country.
I also happen to believe that American adult citizens of good standing should be permitted to be able to choose what they take in their bodies without the consent of doctors or government as long as they are of proper age, and do not do stupid things like drive motor vehicles under the influence. Which of course they do every day of the week under the influence of the most dangerous drug of them all: alcohol. But that opinion of mine is not relevant to this and related posts. This post is solely about getting properly prescribed medications that are not disbursed in this country for a variety of regulatory stupidities.
There is a lot of misinformation about getting meds in Mexico on the Internet and I am probably adding to it. As time goes by I will add links to the useful sources I have found. So far, I have not tried any of this and I have not been to Mexico for years. This information comes entirely from reading dozens or hundreds of posts on the Internet and forming my own judgement. No doubt I will try some of what I discuss here if for no other reason to satisfy my curiosity. Repeat, none of the following is personal experience. And I despise giving what appears as advice without direct personal experience, but here we are. Any numbers quoted are numbers found on the Internet and are likely to be “internet numbers” which is to say not true, or only somewhat true.
First notes, and then tentative conclusions.
Americans going to Mexico to get medication is a vast business. There are numbers like 40 million visitors per year just for this purpose. There are numbers such as $200M a year in pharmaceuticals bought by Americans and carried back across the border. Remember, these are internet numbers, taken with a grain of salt.
There are at least a thousand pharmacies in Tijuana that exist to service this business. These pharmacies fall into two classes. Only the much more rare first class handles what we would call controlled substances. The more common second class of pharmacies handles the more common and uncontrolled substances.
The vast majority of purchases fall into a few classes: older people seeking to save money on the medications they need to survive or not be in pain and who are looking to ease the appalling costs added to medications in American in order to extract more money from innocent victims. As you might imagine our government is outraged that sick and poor people would try to get the same deal that large corporations get by going offshore, and do anything to stop it. But for some reason the border guards will permit these prescription, but non-controlled or scheduled substances back across the border if they are carried by the person they are for and are for personal use. I know very little else about what is involved in getting these medications and they are of no interest to me, at least not yet. The other major group of purchasers are young men looking for Viagra at a discount or other appalling date rape drugs which are apparently easily available. There is also a big business in self medicated antibiotics and people stock up on these. This is the sort of behavior that makes doctors in this country and their paid servants, the politicians, mad with rage and they do whatever they can to stop it. There is another category of people who are seeking medications not yet available in this country but are available in Europe. Mexico seems to follow the European approvals.
Many of these medications are made directly in Mexico in factories run by the major pharmaceutical companies. There is a lot of discussion about what is and what is not of adequate quality. My feeling is that this should not be a major concern unless you are doing things like cancer drugs or heart disease drugs. In my case it is not a concern. The medication will work in the manner that I expect or I will not repeat the experience. If it doesnt work I am no worse off than I was before.
Generally speaking your American prescriptions are not good over there. Mexico has their own system of prescribing medications and if you are interested in so-called controlled substances you will need a Mexican doctor to write you one. This is apocryphally not too difficult it is said. See notes below. A photocopy of an American prescription or empty prescription bottles *may* be of use in demonstrating that you are of good will and it *may* be useful in talking to a licensed Mexican doctor in getting a prescription for what you need. On a personal note I plan to take with me photocopies of a relevant prescription and an empty bottle or two just in case they turn out to be useful.
It is apparently common for a person to go to a pharmacy, be directed to a doctor, and get a prescription for what they need for what we would consider a nominal sum, e.g. $20 or $30 US. Again take this all with a grain of salt.
The doctor may wish to break the prescription down to small amounts and suggest you go to separate pharmacies.
Coming back across the border seems to be the following. You are supposed to declare anything you buy of this type. If you do not, and they find them, you are guilty of a misdemeanor and what you bought are likely to be confiscated. If you do declare and they are for personal use, generally they let you through. If you are carrying so much that they think that you are going to resell them, then they will confiscate. It is not so clear to me that any of this applies to controlled substances, but if they are small amounts for personal use, and you have copies of legitimate prescriptions or American bottles, then it is believed they let you through. I consider this a major flaw in the whole scheme because it is very likely that the behavior may depend on who is manning the station and what the enforcement flavor of the month is.
You will need a passport.
For non-controlled substances that are not health critical, such as heart disease, this is likely to be a way to save substantial money and has no apparent risks.
Those who use medications that are health critical need to be more careful and you can find discussions on the internet of how to do so.
Carrying an American prescription and or empty bottles may be helpful in getting the medication or coming back across the border, or it may be totally a waste of time.
You will need a Mexican prescription for anything that is controlled in Mexico. This includes most but not all of the controlled substances in this country. For ADHD, anything useful is controlled in both countries.
Coming back across the border is a dubious activity that may be helped by the medication being for your personal use, and having proof of legitimate American and Mexican prescriptions. It is critical that this medication be for your own use and not for resale. Failing to declare these things is a crime, do not do it, it will get you into trouble.
You will need an American passport.
Plan to spend all day on this activity, at least the first time you try it.
In conclusion, I am leery of the whole process. It is an ambiguous venture, not quite tantamount to drug smuggling but perhaps one of those odd holes in the control of trade materials across the border. But we are told we live in a world of globalization and that it is ethical to destroy American livelihoods by using slave labor in China, a vicious dictatorship, so why shouldn't Americans try to get a little savings by going to Mexico.
The hypocrisy of our system is rampant, overt, and starting to get annoying.