A recent spot investigation by local officials has found that several pharmacies in Los Cabos and La Paz were selling expired medicine and controlled substances to tourists. Some of the businesses were fined for the activity, while some were actually closed to protect the health of locals and tourists.
One Hundred Pharmacies Audited
Recently, the State Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (COEPRIS) visited more than one hundred pharmacies in Los Cabos and La Paz. There were a total of 60 pharmacies visited in La Paz and Los Cabos on February 28, and an additional 40 were audited a week later.
In each location, officials with the state government commission performed a detailed audit of fifteen security measures to review the operations and safety procedures in each location.
In particular, during the audit, they were reviewing the posting of a required operating notice, a valid license to sell controlled medication, and detailed management of drug logs along with the documentation of the origin and legality of the medication being dispensed. What they uncovered was a wide variety of irregularities in violation of established safety and operating rules.
Some of the violations uncovered were the illegal sale of some cut pills, which was not permitted in accordance with the health and safety rules in Baja California Sur as well as the entire country. In other cases, some expired medication was found on the shelves and was actively being dispensed to unknowing customers.
In Los Cabos alone, nine different pharmacies were closed for the commercial distribution of controlled substances, with another three for selling split and expired medication in violation of local laws. Three additional pharmacies in Los Cabos were also closed but were able to reopen later after fixing issues. Several of the pharmacies were actively serving tourists to the region.
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Active Investigations Ongoing
The investigation spurred from a Los Angeles Times newspaper investigation about pharmacies in Los Cabos selling counterfeit drugs with narcotics to tourists, including fentanyl and methamphetamine. Officials with the United States federal government requested that the authorities in Baja California Sur complete the investigations and close down violators.
State officials said that the investigation of this issue is ongoing, and businesses in Los Cabos and La Paz cited or closed in violation of local pharmacy laws will be observed and visited again to ensure compliance.
The state and local governments are jointly taking a strict stance going forward to ensure the safety of locals and tourists needing medical assistance for pharmacy businesses.
Precautions For Medical Tourism
This issue arises at a time when medical tourism is becoming a big business in Baja California Sur, as well as in the entire country of Mexico. Tourists from the United States are vising the country to obtain lower-cost pharmaceuticals, cosmetic surgery, and even illegal substances. This is a direct impact of the expensive price of medical care in the United States.
However, tourists are advised that there are a number of substantial risks from crossing the border in order to save money. Just this week, two Americans crossing the border in search of a cosmetic “tummy tuck” procedure were ambushed and killed by armed thugs. The federal government has pledged to investigate the matter thoroughly.
For tourists coming from the United States, it’s best to plan ahead for any cross-border medical procedures well in advance of arriving in Mexico for the surgery.
Tourists are also advised to be aware of fake and counterfeit medications being sold in the country and to avoid and report pharmacies that have visible issues with their health and safety standards.
Tourists noticing issues when visiting pharmacies in Los Cabos are being urged to report the issues on the COEPRIS website. The state agency said it will actively investigate every claim made and will undergo surveillance measures to protect the integrity of the pharmacy industry for tourists.
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