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 Mexico – eBooks available for immediate download. She resides full-time in Mexico.