Drug Penalties and Prescription Medications: Penalties for drug offenses are strict, and convicted offenders can expect large fines and jail sentences up to 25 years. The purchase of controlled medication requires a prescription from a licensed Mexican physician; some Mexican doctors have been arrested for writing prescriptions without due cause. In those instances, U.S. citizens who bought the medications have been held in jail for months waiting for the Mexican judicial system to decide their fate. The Mexican list of controlled medication differs from that of the United States, and Mexican public health laws concerning controlled medication are unclear and often enforced selectively. To determine whether a particular medication is controlled in Mexico, and requires a prescription from a Mexican doctor for purchase, please consult the web site of the Mexican Federal Commission for Protection Against Health Risks (Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios - COFEPRIS) at Listado de Medicamentos Controlados, http://www.cofepris.gob.mx/. This site is in Spanish only.
Buying Prescription Drugs: The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens not travel to Mexico for the sole purpose of buying prescription drugs. U.S. citizens have been arrested and their medicines confiscated by the Mexican authorities when their prescriptions were written by a licensed American physician and filled by a licensed Mexican pharmacist. There have been cases of U.S. citizens buying prescription drugs in border cities only to be arrested soon after or have money extorted by criminals impersonating police officers. Those arrested are often held for the full 48 hours allowed by Mexican law without charges being filed, then released. During this interval, the detainees are often asked for bribes or are solicited by attorneys who demand large fees to secure their release, which will normally occur without any intercession as there are insufficient grounds to bring criminal charges against the individuals. In addition, U.S. law enforcement officials believe that as much as 25 percent of medications available in Mexico are counterfeit and substandard. Such counterfeit medications may be difficult to distinguish from the real medications and could pose serious health risks to consumers. The importation of prescription drugs into the United States can be illegal in certain circumstances. U.S. law generally permits persons to enter the United States with only an immediate (about one-month) supply of a prescription medication.