October 3, 2023

(NewsNation) — Two new investigations from media retailers present the true scope of the difficulty on the subject of Mexican pharmacies promoting medicine laced with unlawful fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamines.

The Los Angeles Instances in February reported that pharmacies in a number of northwestern Mexico cities had been promoting meth as Adderall, in addition to fentanyl disguised as Percocet and different opioid painkillers. Now, after 4 extra months of investigation, the publication says the issue is “a lot broader” than beforehand understood.

“It’s not simply stray drugs laced with harmful substances,” the L.A. Instances wrote, “however generally total bottles that look like manufacturing facility sealed.” And reporters with the newspaper discovered that it’s occurring in vacationer sizzling spots throughout the nation: “from the California border to the Yucatán Peninsula and from the southernmost fringe of Texas to the Pacific Coast.”

Instances reporters bought and examined 55 drugs from 29 pharmacies in eight cities over 5 journeys to Mexico. Of those, somewhat greater than half had been counterfeit. One-third of the opioid painkillers examined by journalists had been pretend, with most testing constructive for fentanyl.

In the meantime, Vice visited 30 pharmacies round Mexico’s coast, that are additionally widespread with vacationers, and located pretend Adderall and oxycodone that examined constructive for meth and fentanyl, respectively.

Lots of the drugs Vice purchased got here from bottles labeled totally in English, with the phrases “Percocet” and “Painkillers Tablets Hydrocodone.”

“It’s an elaborate hoax,” Ben Westhoff, writer of “Fentanyl Inc.,” advised the publication. “Someone went to the difficulty of making an attempt to mimic what they assume prescription capsule bottles are imagined to appear like to a U.S shopper, and though they missed the mark by loads, these bottles do have half an air of legitimacy and definitely much more than handing somebody a baggie of drugs.”

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Though federal well being legislation states that buying opioids or benzodiazepines requires a particular prescription issued by Mexico’s Well being Ministry, this legislation was flouted throughout the coast, Vice wrote, noting that it was solely the foremost pharmacy chains that refused to promote reporters the capsule with no correct prescription.

A College of California, Los Angeles research from earlier this yr had related findings: Throughout 40 pharmacies in 4 cities in Mexico,  “two out of three had no less than one managed substance on the market with no prescription.”

“That is simply horrible — it exhibits an utter lack of management in pharmacies,” Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow on the Brookings Establishment, mentioned within the L.A. Instances. “It’s institutionalized homicide.”

Fentanyl has grabbed consideration over how lethal it may be: The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention says it’s 50 occasions stronger than heroin, and double that for morphine. The CDC estimates that 71,000 folks died from overdosing on artificial opioids like fentanyl in 2021 — that’s up from nearly 58,000 in 2020.

The L.A. Instances’ preliminary report prompted the U.S. State Division to difficulty a well being alert concerning the laced prescribed drugs in March.

“Train warning when buying medicine in Mexico,” the State Division warned.

The Related Press contributed to this report.