Finding Your Medicine in Mexico

Medicines: Tablets and Capsules

We were recently asked by a couple considering moving to Mexico whether a life-saving US-manufactured drug will be available here, and what the local brand name of the drug would be. It’s not an uncommon question: many people considering Mexico as a place to live often ask whether they can get their medicines locally.

The answer in an overwhelming number of situations is “yes,” although discovering what that medicine is called here, and if it is the exact same brand, or chemically the same as the brand you take in your home country, will require some investigation.

Here are some suggestions that may help.

Drugs are marketed under different names in different countries, but the chemical name of the medicine you are taking should not vary. You can find out what the chemical name is from your pharmacist and/or the information fact sheet that the drug is shipped with.

One of the best ways to make certain your usual drug and a Mexican drug are the same is to look at the chemical diagram on the information sheet. If they are exactly the same, then it is the same chemical, although the dosage and form (e.g. number of mg and capsule vs. pill) may be different. You can also find information about many domestic and foreign brands here.

Another way to investigate this is to contact the manufacturer of your pharmaceutical and ask them if the specific drug you need is distributed in Mexico. If it is, what name it trades under here. If they don’t distribute in Mexico directly, ask if they have a Mexican affiliate, as oftentimes a foreign company wishing to operate in Mexico must open a separate business here to trade regulated products.

If the drug is distributed under license in Mexico, contact the Mexican company and ask them about the medicine you are looking for. Ask using the generic chemical name, not the brand name. If they do have it, ask what name it trades under in Mexico and where it is distributed.

Another way to find out the name of your medicine is to ask a pharmacist in Mexico. While there are many farmacias here, not all pharmacies are the same. If you are looking for US, Canadian or European drugs or their Mexican equivalent in Mexico, you are most likely to find them in larger pharmacy chains and stores like Sanborns.

In the unlikely event that you are not able to find your specific medication—either your home-country brand or a chemical equivalent—you always have the option of bringing a supply with you (this does not apply to narcotics or psychotropic drugs) along with the prescription and the original container to use temporarily, and seeing a medical specialist in Mexico who can prescribe a new medication for you. Of course, this is essentially starting over with all that implies.

Many of the drugs sold in the US, Canada, and Europe are actually produced in Mexico, and almost every drug (or an equivalent) will be available for your use here. However, in some rare circumstances a specific essential drug you are taking might not be available in Mexico. If so, you will need to discover this before making long-term plans, or make arrangements to have that medication dispensed to you separately.

See also: Healthcare in Mexico

Monica Rix Paxson is an expert in the field of Mexico healthcare. She is author of the English Speaker’s Guide to Medical Care in Mexico, and co-author of The English Speaker’s Guide to Doctors & Hospitals in MexicoeBooks available for immediate downloadShe resides full-time in Mexico.


  1. MGM says

    I will be spending more than 90 days in Mexico. Is Eliquis available there?

  2. Pat volpe says

    Can you buy medical insurance in Mexico for 6 months?

    Will it be less expensive than Canadian insurances

    • Monica Rix Paxson says

      Yes, given that you otherwise qualify, you can purchase insurance for 6 months. You should speak to an insurance agent who is familiar with insurance in both Canada and Mexico in order to answer your second question. If you would like a referral, please contact us:

  3. albert says

    i am considereing a 1-6 month stay in taxco mexico. i take a very strong narcotic because of an auto accident. it is called fentanyl, it is a patch applied to the skin every 48 hours. i am assuming that if you get a good reputable doctor in mexico he can write a prescription for the medication. has anyone had experience in getting a strong narcotic in mexico?

    thank you

    • Monica Rix Paxson says

      I would encourage you not make any such assumption.

      First, it is illegal to bring narcotics into either the US or Mexico unless you carry the doctor’s prescription in your name, but you probably already know that.

      Second, although you may be able to find a doc in Mexico who will prescribe a narcotic, you may not get your fentanyl patches or anything like them. Perhaps another reader will have more information about this particular drug, but it is likely you’ll need to do some research on your own as suggested in the article.

      Third, there are many pharmacies in Mexico, but few that dispense narcotics. That requires a special license and it is not safe to assume such a pharmacy will be readily available in Taxco when you need it, nor that they will have the medication you need.

      By and large, getting chemically equivalent medications is reasonably easy in Mexico—or a satisfactory substitute—as long as they are not narcotics. But those are a special case.

    • Jim says

      Fentanyl patches will be impossible to find legally in Mexico! I speak as a US licensed practitioner who travels to Mexico frequently. “Drug seeking” is now a red flag in Mexico, a 180 degree turn-about from the 1960s when I was there as a student. I’m sure your pain is real but even in the US steps are being taken to limit this incredibly powerful narcotic to hospital use only.

      Legitimate Mexican pharmacists refuse legitimate prescriptions for powerful pain killers or don’t have them available. Most powerful narcotics are limited to black market sales. A friend of mine, a US licensed physician, was refused Aspirin in a DF pharmacy. The pharmacist had been warned and didn’t know the patient.

      Hope your condition improves. Be VERY careful using Fentanyl. The level pain it implies should limit your ability to travel. I’m not judging but giving the facts with 45 years medical background. Do well.

  4. Monica Rix Paxson says

    I am not familiar with this medication. Perhaps someone who reads this will know about it specifically, but otherwise, this article suggests several things you can do to discover if it is available in Mexico.

  5. Yvonne Ibanez says

    Hi, I take a medicine called Lialdia. Is this drug available in Mexico?

Comments are closed.