Americans Crossing Borders to Fill Prescriptions at All Time High

pharmacy in tijuamanAmericans strapped by rising medical bills and hard times heading South despite dangers

By Susan Jenkins

HOLLYWOOD,CA(RushPRnews/Hollywood Today)11/20/08— The recent economic crisis in the U.S. has had different responses from Americans in need of affordable prescription drugs. While many have decided to cut back on their prescriptions, others have initiated a Tijuana-based solution and are traveling to Mexico for low cost drugs, treatment and dental care.

This is despite drug wars there of a different kind, as illegal drug lords are in a battle that have taken hundreds of lives and endanger everyone in the city. The once thriving bar and shopping street Ave. de Revolucion is now but a shadow of its old self.

Last year the U.S. spent more than $286 billion for prescriptions, more than any other country in the world. According to Dr. Timothy Anderson, the U.S. is now seeing a “declining volume” that is “most likely tied to the worsening economy.” In fact, Pfizer, the pharma giant has had a decrease of 13% in its sale of Lipitor in the 3rd quarter of this year. Dr. James King, the Chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians, stated that he believes “people are responding to the financial and economic hard times by juggling the cost of necessities like groceries and housing and sometimes, prescription drugs are having to wait.”

The past ten years have seen an enormous increase in Americans resorting to the Tijuana solution and why not with prescription drugs, certain types of medical treatments and dental care a fraction of the cost of what it is in the U.S. The current economic climate has put even more people in the position of having to reduce or eliminate their prescription drugs or run the risks associated with going to Tijuana for their health care solutions.

Tijuana, Mexico has become increasingly dangerous and risky for U.S. citizens. According to the U.S. Department of State, the drug cartels have become increasingly violent and are fighting for control of narcotics along the U.S. Mexican borders in response to the government of Mexico initiatives to crackdown on narcotics trafficking organizations. The Department of State emphasizes that “while millions safely visit Mexico every year, it is important to understand the risks. Recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small unit combat. There have been firefights in Tijuana, Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez. The situation in Tijuana remains fluid, the location and timing of future armed engagements cannot be predicted.”

While there is a risk involved there may also be a risk in reducing or eliminating life-saving medication. Many are deciding that that is more of a risk than traveling to Tijuana for their prescription drugs, treatment or dental work.

If you decide that Tijuana is still preferable or that you have no choice in the matter, there are several ways to make your trip to Tijuana safer. Using common sense would be the number one rule for your visit just as one would in any city in the U.S. with a noted crime rate. Actually, the crime rate is higher in some U.S. cities than in Tijuana. For example, there is a higher murder rate in Milwalkee than in Tijuana. Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago also beat out Tijuana in having a higher murder rate.

Before going into Mexico, you should decide on the safest way to do so. Many discourage driving your own vehicle into the country and state that the best way is to either park and walk or park at the “Last U.S. Exit” (off the I-5 or the I-805) for a small fee and catch the large red bus which charges $1 each way. According to many, this “Mexicoach Bus” will drop you safely into Tijuana.

Some additional safety measures include, but are not limited to: do not drink too much; do not display expensive jewelry or any other items of value (cameras, watches, money, etc); only visit legitimate businesses; do not stray from the tourist area (Avenida Revolucion); be wary of taxi cabs; go during daylight hours; and only take cash. Again, the bottom line is to use common sense.

The lack of appropriate health care and prescription drug coverage in the U.S. has certainly placed many at-risk. It’s a sad statement that many citizens are reduced to choosing between possible cartel- related confrontations or reducing/eliminating their often life saving medications.

Before planning any trip anywhere out of the country, it’s a good idea to log into the state department website at: http://travel.state.gov


Photo by Bill Matterson

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