For years, borderland Texans without health insurance have relied on cheap medicine from across the Rio Grande. The prices are often a quarter of what they are in the U.S., prompting a quick drive for $15 diabetes medication.
But physicians and law enforcement are now tracking a relatively new trend—the smuggling of medicine in bulk from Mexico to U.S. patients who no longer feel safe shopping for them over the border, Marketplace reports”
At emergency rooms on the border, physicians like Juan Nieto of Presidio, Texas say patients are at risk. He says they’re increasingly showing up with medications that don’t look right.
“These are medications that sometimes can’t identify. They appear to be black market, homemade,” he says.
Nieto said patients are unapologetic about how they get medicine from Mexico, even if they don’t buy it themselves.
“Some of them say they have them bring it over for them, others say they just buy them here,” Nieto says.
“Medications have made the scene in flea markets,” he explains. “It’s a good avenue for people to be inconspicuous in obtaining their medicines, without seeming like they’re dealing with a drug dealer.”
In one raid alone last summer, Texas officials seized 25,000 bottles of prescription medicine at a flea market.