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Travel Health & Safety Blog

Stay Safe in Mexico: A Guide to Avoid Counterfeit Medications

fentanyl-laced medications 

Mexico is a popular vacation destination for Americans, but recent headlines about crime and counterfeit medications have made some travellers worry about their safety. This article addresses these concerns and provides tips for maintaining personal security, ensuring medication safety, and seeking medical attention while travelling in Mexico.

In response to the increasing reports of fentanyl-laced medications, the U.S. government has expressed serious concern about the safety of its citizens traveling to Mexico. Senators and Representatives have urged the State Department to issue a travel advisory warning Americans about the risks associated with purchasing prescription medications from Mexican pharmacies. This move highlights the government's commitment to ensuring that travellers are well-informed about potential dangers, enabling them to take appropriate precautions when visiting Mexico for leisure or business purposes.

At MedAire, our goal is to provide travellers with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate their journey safely. By being proactive and taking the right precautions, visitors can appreciate all Mexico offers without compromising their well-being.

Bill Dolny, CEO MedAire.


Counterfeit prescription pills laced with fentanyl have been found in Mexican pharmacies, posing a risk to unsuspecting tourists. As a result, travellers should be cautious when purchasing medications in Mexico and be aware of the potential dangers. To avoid counterfeit medications, consider the following tips:

Seek reputable pharmacies

When purchasing medications in Mexico, avoid buying from street vendors or unregistered pharmacies. Instead, look for well-established and reputable pharmacies, preferably those recommended by local healthcare professionals or travel insurance providers.

Consult a local physician

If you require prescription medication while in Mexico, consider consulting a local physician who can provide you with a proper prescription. This will ensure you receive the correct medication and reduce the risk of purchasing counterfeit or contaminated drugs.

Check packaging and labelling

Counterfeit medications often have differences in packaging and labelling compared to the genuine product. Look for signs of tampering, misspelled words, or inconsistencies in the packaging. Be cautious of any medication sold in loose or unmarked packaging.

Verify the medication's appearance

Familiarise yourself with the appearance of the genuine medication, including its colour, shape, and markings. Counterfeit drugs may have slight differences in appearance, such as a different imprint or a variance in colour.

Use caution with controlled substances

Be particularly cautious when purchasing controlled substances like opioids or stimulants, as these medications are more likely to be counterfeit or laced with dangerous substances like fentanyl. If possible, obtain these medications through a trusted healthcare provider in your home country.

Research online pharmacies

If you choose to purchase medications from an online pharmacy, ensure that the pharmacy is registered and has a good reputation. Look for verified accreditation seals, such as the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) in the United States or similar programs in other countries.

Be skeptical of significant price differences

If a medication is sold at a significantly lower price than you would expect, this may be a red flag that the product is counterfeit or contaminated. Always prioritise your safety over potential cost savings.

Getting Proper Medical Care

When travelling to Mexico, ensuring access to proper medical care is essential for a safe and enjoyable trip. Although Mexico has many reputable healthcare providers, it's crucial to be prepared and informed about the best ways to obtain quality medical assistance should the need arise. The following tips guide how to navigate the healthcare system in Mexico and secure the appropriate care for your health and well-being.

Research healthcare providers

Before travelling to Mexico, research local hospitals and clinics in the areas you plan to visit. Look for reputable facilities with positive reviews and make a list of their contact information to have readily available during your trip.

Invest in travel insurance

Purchasing travel insurance with comprehensive medical coverage can be essential for ensuring access to quality healthcare abroad. In addition, be sure your policy covers medical evacuation, as this may be necessary for a severe medical emergency.

Utilise embassy resources

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico can provide a list of local healthcare providers, including hospitals and doctors. In case of a medical emergency, they can also help you communicate with family and healthcare providers back home.

Carry a personal medical history

If you require medical attention, having a copy of your medical history can be invaluable. This should include any pre-existing conditions, allergies, current medications, and emergency contact information. Consider having this information translated into Spanish to facilitate communication with local healthcare providers.

Learn basic medical phrases

Familiarise yourself with basic medical phrases in Spanish to help communicate your symptoms and needs effectively. This can be particularly important if you're travelling to an area where English is not widely spoken.

Use telemedicine services

Telemedicine services, which provide medical consultations via phone or video call, can be an excellent resource for travellers. This allows you to consult with a healthcare professional without physically visiting a clinic or hospital.

Seek medical care early

If you feel unwell or suspect you may have a medical issue, seek professional medical care as soon as possible. Early intervention can help prevent minor issues from escalating into more severe conditions.

Despite the challenges and risks associated with travel to Mexico, the country continues to be a vibrant and attractive destination for millions of American tourists. By staying informed, exercising vigilance, and following the tips outlined in this article, travellers can confidently enjoy Mexico's rich cultural experiences and natural beauty. In addition, companies like MedAire can provide invaluable support in ensuring travellers' safety, offering medical and security advice and assistance in emergencies. Ultimately, a well-prepared and cautious approach to travel will allow visitors to make the most of their Mexican adventure while mitigating potential risks associated with personal security, medication safety, and medical care.


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