Here's What You Need to Know About Mexico's Resort Pharmacy Crackdown

The pharmacies were allegedly offering tourists fake pills for unprescribed medications.

The Mexican government just shut down a bit of pharmacy tourism through Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. According to the Associated Press, 23 targeted pharmacies at resorts were offering tourists pills that were passed off as Oxycodone, Percocet and Adderall. The pharmacies were also reportedly handing out the pills without prescriptions.

Way back in March, the US government actually issued a warning to travelers about this practice, and advised travelers not to purchase unprescribed medications from pharmacies. Mexican authorities told the press that 23 of 55 investigated pharmacies were found to have "irregular sales."

These pharmacies were marketing these medications specifically to tourists, even offering delivery services. In contrast, in the U.S, Oxycodone is a Schedule II narcotic that requires a prescription in order to be purchased; prescription rules vary by country as do regulations around prescription practices. But the ease of getting medications that are hard-to-get prescription medications in the US was a draw for some tourists.

Back in February of 2023, UCLA Health published a report that stated that there is "scientific evidence that 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 are often passed off as controlled substances such as Oxycodone, Percocet, and Adderall."

According to the AP, there was not any fentanyl reported to be found in the pills seized during the closure of the 23 pharmacies.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.