This article is from the June 1997 The Mexico File newsletter.
Back to Articles List

Guidelines for Buying Medicine
in Mexico and Importing Them to the U.S.

Most common medicines, although they may require a prescription in the United States, can be bought in Mexico inexpensively and easily, usually with no difficulty at all. To avoid any hassles at all, however, follow these guidelines:

Drugs that require a prescription from a Mexican doctor: Any medication related to the nervous system or for appetite control requires a prescription from a Mexican doctor and a U.S. prescription will not do. Pharmacies are required to turn in records of numbered prescriptions and sales to federal authorities.. Medications in this category include Valium, Xanax, Librium, and Ponderex. Both the seller and the buyer are liable if a sales transaction occurs illegally.

Drugs that require a prescription from either a Mexican or a U.S. doctor...technically. This category is much looser. Pharmacies often ask to see a prescription but then will return it to the customer, and often they do not even bother. Only the seller is at risk here, not the purchaser. These include antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil, blood pressure medicine, such as Propanolol, and antibiotics, such as Amoxicillin.

Guidelines for Importing Medicines Bought in Mexico Into the U.S.: The FDA allows the importation of a 90-day supply of medications into the U.S. for personal use. However, the following guidelines must be observed:

• Imported medications must be declared at the border

  • They must be approved for sale in the United States (for example a number of experimental drugs, like Rohypnol, are readily available in Mexico, but not approved by the FDA for use in the U.S.)
  • If they require prescriptions in the U.S. they must be accompanied, when you cross the border, by a prescription from either a Mexican or a U.S. doctor.
  • Anabolic steroids must be accompanied by a prescription from a U.S. doctor.
  • The importer should be the person for whom the prescription was written (in other words, you can’t bring across a supply of Prozac for Aunt Mary, regardless of how much you wish you could.)