MEXICO — Mexico has closed 23 pharmacies in Caribbean coastal resorts, six months after a research report warned Mexican pharmacies were offering foreigners pills they passed off as Oxycodone, Percocet and Adderall without a prescription, authorities announced on Tuesday.
A four-day inspection raid targeted pharmacies in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
In March, the US State Department issued a travel warning about the sale of these pills, and the practice appears to be widespread.
The Navy Department said Tuesday that irregular sales were found at 23 of 55 pharmacies inspected.
The Navy said pharmacies usually only offer the pills to tourists, and pharmacies advertise the pills and even offer door-to-door delivery services for them.
The Navy said it found expired drugs and some for which there was no record of the supplier, as well as blank or unsigned prescription forms.
In February, the University of California, Los Angeles announced that researchers had found that 68% of 40 Mexican pharmacies visited in four cities in northern Mexico sold oxycodone, Xanax or Adderall, and that 27 % of these pharmacies were selling fake pills.
UCLA said the study, published in January, found that “physical pharmacies in tourist towns in northern Mexico sell counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine. These pills are sold primarily to American tourists and are often advertised as controlled substances such as Oxycodone, Percocet and Adderall.
“These counterfeit pills pose a serious overdose risk to purchasers who believe they are getting a known amount of a weaker drug,” Chelsea Shover, assistant professor-in-residence at the University’s David Geffen School of Medicine, said in February. ‘UCLA.
And the US State Department’s March travel warning said counterfeit pills sold in Mexican pharmacies “could contain lethal doses of fentanyl”.
The Mexican Navy did not confirm that pills containing fentanyl were found during last week’s raid, but said drugs were seized to test if they contained fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a much more potent synthetic opioid than morphine, and it is responsible for approximately 70,000 overdose deaths per year in the United States. Mexican cartels produce it from precursor chemicals smuggled in from China, then often squeeze it into pills designed to look like other drugs.
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