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Antibiotics Sold Over the Counter in Mexico: Law or No Law

It seems that if you live in Mexico and you have any type of ailment, antibiotics are readily available. Despite laws to the contrary, citizens rarely need a prescription to secure the medications they want and the directions for dosage: however the user sees fit to take the meds.

While this may seem like an absurd way to handle healthcare, an LA Times report finds this is business as usual in Mexico. The country is well-stocked on antibiotics. Pharmacists hand out enough doses throughout the year that nearly every one of the nation’s 110 million people could have two full rounds of treatment.

This self-medication practice is posing a threat to public health as it discourages real medical care and helps to promote the growth of bacteria that is resistant to current antibiotic strains.

To combat the problem, authorities in Mexico are cracking down on this incessant pill-popping. New rules will take effect in August, which will require pharmacies to adhere to stricter oversight and disclosure requirements. Those who violate the new laws could face fines as high as $15,000 and even closure.

The practice of self-medicating took on more attention last year when Mexico battled the onslaught of the H1N1 virus. Authorities blame rampant self-medication for the deadliness of the H1N1 virus. Too many individuals self-medicated and then went to the doctor after it was too late to make a difference.

Some may wonder how well the new rules will work given the law already requires a prescription for antibiotics. At present, enforcement is laid back and the rule often overlooked. Medications such as penicillin and ciprofloxacin are basically available over the counter.
With new laws in place, will it simply send more antibiotics to the black market and drive up prices and profits for those dealing? It may only take time to tell.
 

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