What You Need to Know to Bring Prescription Drugs into the U.S. from Mexico
- Last Updated: July 28, 2022 by Tamera Martens
- Healthcare, Medical Tourism
It's no secret that prescription drugs can be expensive in the United States. In fact, they are often among the most costly items on a person's healthcare bill. So, it's not surprising that many people seek out less expensive alternatives, including buying prescription medications in Mexico. But before you cross the border to buy your meds, there are a few things you should know.
- Mexican pharmacies sell a variety of drugs. There are a wide range of prescription drugs available at Mexican pharmacies, from common antibiotics to more specialized medications. In general, you can find most of the same medications that are available in the United States, but they may be sold under different names. And while some Mexican pharmacies are well-stocked and reliable, others are not. So, it's important to do your research before you buy.
- You will need to show your Passport or approved ID at the border. When you return to the United States from Mexico, you may be asked to show your passport or other identification at the border. And while you're not required to declare prescription medications, it's a good idea to do so anyway. This will help avoid any potential problems with customs agents.
- Mexican pharmacies typically don't accept U.S. or Canadian insurance. In Mexico, prescription drugs are not covered by U.S. insurance. This means that you will likely have to pay for your medications in cash. Be sure to factor this into the cost of your medications when you're budgeting for your trip.
- The maximum quantity of medication that can be brought back into the United States is a three-month supply.
- Prescription drugs must be in their original, unopened containers with the label from the Mexican pharmacy.
Many common drugs available in the United States can also be purchased in Mexico, usually at a significant price reduction. But before you take your prescription across the border or plan on visiting a Mexico pharmacy, you may want to learn more about what drugs are available, and which ones will be allowed back across the border.
Prescription Drugs Available in a Mexico Pharmacy
Mexico is a well-known destination for prescription drugs. Here's a list of drugs that are likely available at a Mexico pharmacy.
- Antibiotics, like Amoxicillin and Ciprofloxacin
- Birth Control
- Erectile Dysfunction medications, like Viagra
- Blood Pressure medications, including Lisinopril and Atenolol
- Cholesterol-lowering medications such as Simvastatin
- Diabetes medication, including many types of insulin
- Heartburn and GERD medications such as Omeprazole and Prilosec
- Pain Medication, like Percocet, Oxycodone, Vicodin, and Tramadol
- Antidepressants such as Celexa, Wellbutrin, and a variety of SSRIs
- Anxiety Medication, including Xanax, Klonopin, and other benzodiazepines
- Muscle Relaxers such as Flexeril and Soma
- Asthma inhalers, like Albuterol, Breo, ProAir®, and many others
- Steroid medications such as Prednisone
- ADD and ADHD medications, like Ritalin, Strattera, and Vyvanse. Adderall is available at some pharmacies but is limited in supply and fairly expensive.
- Anti-fungals like Ivermectin
- Over-the-Counter Medications such as vitamins, supplements, and other medications available without a prescription
You can usually purchase these medications over the counter in Mexico, and they are significantly cheaper than their counterparts in the United States.
It is important to note that not all these drugs are available in Mexican pharmacies, and some may require a prescription.
Additionally, you should always check with your healthcare provider before taking any medication, as some may interact with other drugs you are taking or have adverse side effects.
Finally, be aware that bringing prescription drugs into the United States from Mexico is subject to Customs and Border Protection regulations. For more information on what drugs you can and cannot bring across the border, please read the Customs and Border Protection 2021 list of allowed medications and visit the Customs and Border Protection website.
Quality, Safety, Legality of Prescription Drugs Bought in Mexico
Some people may be concerned about the quality of prescription drugs available in Mexico. However, the Mexican government has strict regulations in place to ensure that all prescription drugs sold in Mexico meet international quality standards. In addition, most Mexican pharmacies are licensed and insured by Mexican health authorities, so you can be confident that you're getting safe and reliable medication.
In general, it's perfectly safe and legal to purchase prescription drugs in Mexican pharmacies and bring them back into the United States for personal use.
It's important to research which drugs are available and make sure you're only bringing back those that are legal to possess in the United States. Doing so will help ensure a hassle-free border crossing and avoid any potential problems with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
How to Get a Prescription from a Mexican Doctor
Some drugs in Mexican pharmacies need a prescription to purchase. The best way to get a prescription is to visit a Mexican doctor. Mexican doctors are licensed and qualified to prescribe medication, and many of them offer telemedicine services that allow you to consult with a doctor online or over the phone.
To get a prescription, you'll first need to find a doctor who offers telemedicine or walk-in services. You can do this by searching online.
Once you've found a doctor, you'll need to provide them with your medical history and current list of medications. The doctor will then be able to assess your condition and may prescribe medication that's available in Mexico.
Buying U.S. or Canadian Prescribed Medicine in Mexico
If you're already taking prescription medication and need a prescription to purchase it in Mexico. Bring your current prescription with you when you visit the Mexican pharmacy or doctor, if required. This will help ensure that you're receiving the same medication while in Mexico.
Buying New Medications Prescribed by a Mexican Doctor
If you're starting a new course of prescription medication while in Mexico, be sure to ask the Mexican doctor for a copy of the prescription in case you have any difficulties taking it across the border, or need to get a refill in the U.S. or Canada.
It's important to note that not all medications available in Mexico will be available in the United States and Canada. If you're prescribed a medication that's not available in the U.S. or Canada, you may need to have it shipped to you. Ask your Mexican doctor or pharmacy about this possibility before leaving their office.
How to Find a Mexican Pharmacy
There are a few different ways to find a Mexican pharmacy. One option is to search online for "Mexican pharmacies" or "Mexico pharmacies" in the area you are visiting. You can usually find several pharmacies in most Mexican cities. You can ask other American tourists about the pharmacies they frequent, or you can ask a local doctor or hospital for a recommendation.
Once you've found a Mexican pharmacy, let the pharmacist know what medications you are looking for or present the prescription from your doctor in Mexico.
If you wish to have a medication mailed to you, ask the pharmacist about this possibility.
How Much do Drugs Cost in Mexican Pharmacies?
The cost of drugs can vary depending on the medication you're looking for. Like in the U.S., brand-name drugs are going to be more expensive than generic drugs. In most cases you will find significant savings on medications by shopping at a Mexican pharmacy. And the American dollar goes far in Mexico due to the favorable exchange rate. You will likely save money, even without using your insurance.
How to Bring Prescription Drugs Back into the U.S.
If you're traveling to Mexico and need to bring prescription drugs with you, there are a few things you need to know.
- Not every drug is legal to bring back into the United States.
- Keep drugs in their original containers, whether you needed a prescription or not.
- If you purchased medication in Mexico, you need to have your doctor's note or prescription.
- You are only allowed to bring a limited amount of each drug/prescription back into the United States. Make sure you only have 3 months' worth of the drug you are bringing back to the U.S.
Also, federal law prohibits the importation of any drugs that have not been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
With that said, the FDA will allow you to bring unapproved drugs into the United States under these conditions:
- Product is not for treatment of a serious condition & there is no known health risk (Over the Counter, OTC); or
- Product is for the treatment of a serious condition (Prescription Drugs):
- The product is for a serious condition for which effective treatment may not be available.
- There is no known commercialization or promotion of the product to persons residing in the U.S.
- The product does not represent an unreasonable risk.
- The consumer affirms in writing that the product is for personal use.
- The quantity is generally not more than a three month supply and you must either:
- Provide the name and address of the doctor licensed in the U.S. responsible for your treatment, or
- Provide evidence that the product is for the continuation of a treatment begun in Mexico.
Read more on the FDA Website page on personal importation.
Customs & Border Patrol
When you go through customs, declare your drugs, and present your doctor's note or prescription, if asked for it.
With a little planning, you can get the medications you need while you're traveling in Mexico. Just be sure to check the rules and regulations before you leave so that you don't run into any problems at the border.
Mexican pharmacies can be a great resource for cheaper prescription drugs. But before you buy, be sure to do your research and understand the risks. This will help ensure that you get the medications you need without any problems.
U.S. laws are constantly changing, and the content in this article may change without notice. Mexpro has no association with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, or the Food and Drug Administration. If you still have questions about what could be carried across the border you can contact the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration or U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Other Medical Discounts
Did you know that medical tourism is becoming popular in Mexico among U.S. and Canadian citizens? Mexico has put a lot of money into improving medical facilities and training doctors at top schools in the U.S. and other countries. If you need a medical procedure that is not affordable, or your deductible exceeds the funds in your pocketbook, look no further than Mexico.
If you are near Juarez, Mexico there is a group available to assist you. Go to medicaltourismjuarez.com for information on medical procedures available in Juarez.