Ask Codo: Can you find Percocet and Oxycontin in Mexico?

One of the strangest drug policies in México is the almost total lack of “Opioid” type analgesic pain relievers. A check of Mexico’s pharmaceutical manufacturing lists reveals several Mexican owned and sub-licensed foreign firms do indeed produce narcotic drugs for prescription sales – but not for sale in México. Despite Mexico’s reputation as an easy place to buy pharmaceuticals, opioid pain relievers are as hard to get in México as weapons grade uranium is in the United States. Rumor has it that private (read expensive) hospitals in Mexico’s largest cities dispense narcotic pain relievers1 but only by injection. Hospitals such as IMSS, ISSSTE, and Seguro Popular only allow Trauma Doctors to dispense morphine and it’s said each dose entails a blizzard of paperwork. Opioid pain medications are not administered in public hospitals even after surgery2

How far did I chase this elusive trail? To regional administrative staff of public hospitals, the largest proveedores (wholesale suppliers to farmacias) and even to manufacturers themselves. Almost all manufacturing companies are located within an hour’s drive of México DF. Most refused to even discuss the subject, the few that made declarative statements, asserted their product was destined for export. Military hospitals reportedly stock narcotic analgesics in injectable form but only for active duty military personnel who become injured while on duty.


Following the US, México has banned all products containing the analgesic drug “Darvon.” The US ban was instituted after numerous complaints linked the drug to dangerous side-effects. The efficacy (potency) of Darvon was highly controversial in the US to begin with, so doctors and patients alike seem to agree that pulling of the drug off the market would not cause many complaints from consumers. This leaves but one single narcotic based oral analgesic available in México for retail sales. It is a “Class II” Sector Salud controlled drug so a prescription from a licensed Mexican medical doctor is necessary to obtain it. Few farmacias stock the remaining narcotic medication.


Codeine and “paracetamol” which is the terminology used in México for acetaminophen (Tylenol) is available in a low dose strength. A few years ago a newly herniated spinal disc forced me to seek this miserably ineffective medication on my way north by bus to a hospital in the United States. The US hospital prescribed oxycodone 5 milligrams plus acetaminophen. FOUR of the Mexican codeine tablets had less pain-killing effect than one, single, lowest-dose of U.S.A. oxycodone. The sad part is TYLEX, the brand name of the Mexican codeine-Tylenol, cost the equivalent of THREE US DOLLARS PER PILL. Twelve dollars for a single dose of four tablets and the results were pathetic. To add insult to injur,y TYLEX is not the easiest medicine to find. Only one out of twenty or thirty Mexican farmacias carry Tylex.


Having an unfortunately intimate knowledge of pain-relievers, I can state unequivocally that one 100 milligram dose of over-the-counter (sold without a prescription) TRAMADOL is neck-and-neck equal to a TYLEX pill. Tramadol costs a tiny fraction of the price of the narcotic, and most expatriates rely on Tramadol. But Tramadol itself has severe side effects and is nowhere near as strong a pain reliever as the lowest dose oxycodone (maybe 10% as a guess?).



A small emergency supply of narcotic analgesics can tide a person over until they get to a US hospital. When kept inside a pill bottle with medical prescription label addressed to the person possessing it, a narcotic pain reliever is absolutely legal to have in México. But Mexican law is clear and draconian regarding misuse of prescription drugs, so do not drink and take drugs not even if they are “legal.” Talk to your doctor about whether or not having an emergency supply of narcotic medications is appropriate for you. Surfers, hang gliders and rock climbers may benefit doing so.

1Narcotic analgesics are purchased from U.S.A. pharmaceutical distributors and imported into México under license of COFEPRIS Sector Salud’s regulatory arm. Reportedly the price to the patient is something like twice that of a hospital in the USA.

2Having been hospitalized twice for major surgery (one instance – three hours complete anesthesia on the operating table) the strongest analgesic given, offered, or available was a non steroid anti-inflammatory medication – little stronger than common Celebrex (Celecoxib). To top it off, it was administered intravenously as are all hospital medications. If a patient needs an oral medication it must be fetched from a non-hospital farmacia and paid for at time of purchase at the farmacia. Patent medicines at sold at full retail price which can rival private pharmacy drug prices in the USA.

About Kelly Nowicki

19 Responses to “Ask Codo: Can you find Percocet and Oxycontin in Mexico?”

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  1. -El Codo- says:


    10% Cortisone creams, Caladryl Clear, 10% LIDOCAINE sprays, I’ve tried them all on no-see-um bites and all of them failed miserably. They did not work. A waste of money.

    To relieve the itching FAST and PERMANENTLY, you’re going to need the following. Q-Tip swabs, and boiling hot water. Nothing else. The water does not have to be “purified”.

    Boil the water. BE CAREFUL! Dip the Q-tip into the hot water and swiftly dab it onto the bite. Yeah it’s gonna burn a little. I did not write “A Lot”. Don’t over do it. One or two dabs is enough.

    “IT’S LIKE A SWITCH!” on reader on another site reported. “BANG! THE ITCH GOES AWAY. ALL THE WAY AWAY, FOREVER!”.

    Don’t let the “Burn A Little” scare you. Compared to the agonizing itch, the “discomfort” is going to feel like paradise.

    It works RIGHT NOW, and the relief is TOTAL and the relief is PERMANENT.

    Don’t try and be a smart Alec and try this without using a Q-Tip. The AMOUNT of hot water applied is critical. Even a tiny corner of a napkin is too much water and will scald. You need to get the boiling hot water from the pot or cup to the bite quickly, so be careful.

    And yes, this works on the worst kind of jejene bites in Mexico, the kind that swell up to the size of a pea.

    If you have more than say a dozen bites, go see a doctor, a real doctor. There are injectable antihistamines that will offer excellent relief. I just believe external treatment is better for fewer bites.

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  4. Michael says:

    I cu outrrently have a script for oxycodone 30 mg In the US
    I wanna know how easy is it to get oxycodone 30 mg in Mexico
    and can I bring it back by law explain what are the laws about it
    wanted to know is it readily available?
    and can I bring my prescription to Mexico With a problem?

    • Guest1 says:

      I am an American Citizen who’s wife is a Meixcan Citizen, and we go to Mexico to visit her family from time to time. Currently take oxycodone and some other controlled medication for issues with me back, and can state absolutely that you CANNOT get oxycodone in Mexico in any way, shape, or form legally. I doubt you can even get it illegally, since it’s not even available legally. They don’t even administer it in hospitals after major surgery, and a Mexican doctor doesn’t even have the ability the prescribe oxycodone.

      As far as the other part of your question, the last time we went to Mexico, I was taking 100mg of morphine sulfate ER and 30 mg of oxycode, and I did take my medication with me in the prescription bottles, and had no problems. From my experience, and from research that I’ve done prior to traveling, as long as you have your medication in a prescription bottle, with your name and information on it, and the quantity you have doesn’t exceed the qty on the bottle you should have no problems. Although I haven’t done this, I would also consider getting a letter from your doctor stating your reason for taking the medication and have it translated to Spanish to take with.

      Also, keeping in mind my statements above about the inability to even be prescribed oxycodone in Mexico, I would keep it to myself that you are in possession of oxycodone tablets, because you may find that some of the citizen there will try to get them from you or rob you.

      Finally, the only pain medication that you can really get in Mexico (which probably wouldn’t even help you if you are taking 30 mg of oxycodone) is tramadol and Tylex. Tylex is essentially Tylenol with Codeine. You do need a prescription, but you can usually see a doctor in Mexico, tell them about your problem, and they can write you a prescription. Also, most pharmacies in Mexico have doctors employed right there that can write a prescription. I’m not 100% sure about the laws concerning bringing it back with you, but I think as long as you claim it at customs, and keep the prescription from the Mexican doctor, you should be okay there as well.

  5. Miss "Can't Have this" says:

    When I went to get my Lorazapam Anti anxiety they thrust a DEA list in my face and said I was abusing this drug I so desperately need. How can I get it in Mexico. Do they have that drug? It’s the only thing that works for my anxiety. On it I am normal, withdrawing I am a mess. HELP!

    • jen says:

      benedryl is from the benzodiazapine family….other benzodiazapines are xanax, valium…there are others….benedryl can therefore help in a small way to help symptoms of withdrawl from other drugs for a short time, it has antihistamines but it also relaxes smooth muscle and can help decrease withdrawl symptoms. Did You go there knowingly that You would run out of medicine?

      All should know to take their own medications with them when traveling…especially through countries that are not as developed as America is. Keep it in the original bottles and indeed carry a letter listing your diagnosis.

      Do not try to buy marijuana from the locals either because the police tend to prefer arresting tourists instead of the locals, I dont thunk that they are even obligated to even feed You in these mexican jails…a vistor has to bring You food…I have had my own bad experiences in hospitals even in the USA…never go alone…in any country…

      Sorry that it was too late for You…maybe his will help other people who are considering going to other less developed countries…The USA is the BEST MAN! Keep Your money here at home…the living conditions…thats why its cheap to go there,

      Mt friend has a coffee bar in mexico…and the people there rend to dislke and resent the wealthy but “cheap” and spoiled americans….She pays the workers very little but they put up with it because of tips…but they resent Her charging 5 UD$ for a coffee…

      • Stupid John Says says:

        Benadryl is not a benzo. Its an antihistamine, you know, for hives. The misinformation and propaganda here is insane. Benadryl makes you only slightly sleepy, and you can google all of this information of course. Most drugs are available from the smaller side street pharmacies, be upfront with pharmacists and 2/3 times you will get what you need.

  6. barbara ramirez says:

    I am just about to go home to the U.S. after having to go through withdrawal in Mexico. I’ve taken hydrocodone for 14 years for 2 herniated discs and a flattened spinal chord. My U.S. doctor told me 4 times that I would be able to easily get my medicine! I’m allergic to Tramdol and this whole thing has been a traumatic disaster!

    • Patty says:

      Hi Barbara, I just read your post . I have been in your shoes and it was horrible. I too was on Hydro & Oxy’s for 4 straight years after having both my knees replaced and then followed by a revision and 9 surgeries later, infection and nearly loosing my left leg. I can not believe they have just “stopped cold” not caring about our “Quality of Life”. Anyone reading this will understand exactly what I mean. I know you do :)

      Good news… I had to check my self into a detox program. While there, I was given a God Send drug called “Suboxone” You may have heard of it, or even tried it. All I know is that I stopped crying in pain everyday! I ended up taking “shots” of Whisky to at least be able to shower everyday before I found suboxone. I wasn’t a drinker until the surgeries.
      Well, I’m sure you know where that lead! Suboxone saved my butt. It comes in a film that you melt under your tongue. Doctors will give that to just about anyone trying to get off of opiates.

      The bottom line… I’m on my way back to San Miguel (my parents lived there for 13 years and died there in the 90’s) and if that’s the only pain reducer I can take, then I will. It’s compared to Methadone /Moraphine on the internet. Barbara, I really hope you have found something to help you through the day since you last posted. Let me know how you are!

  7. Paul says:

    Hi, Just wanted to know why it is a problem in Mexico with opiates. Does or did Mexico have an epidemic for abuse or something? Seems as though if it’s a problem with purchasing to return to the US would be the same as if you were to buy valium, xanax or drugs with a similar schedule.

  8. chongo says:

    Here is a little advice about Tramadol from a patient who has been on and off this med for the last 15 plus years. Since Tramadol is about the only real pain treatment alternative in Mexico, here is the downside. This medication will depress respiration and can kill you. It could be difficult to stop cold turkey after taking it for a long time, even in small doses. It should be understood that metabolism of Tramadol can take several hours to break down into a molecule that is very similar to morphine. For severe pain, a person might not notice any effect for the first 2-4 hours, with the best pain relief noticed after 5-8 hours. Every person is different. Stay within the dosage guidelines. Another downside is that Tramadol interacts with everything. It can work as well as the more problematic opioid, but only when taken in the right amounts at the right time. Taking it with other CNS depressants, including alcohol and you can wake up dead. I found that most MDs don’t know a lot about this drug and the withdrawal issues. It was recently moved up on the drug schedule due to patients experiencing major problems when stopping the drug after using it for along time.

    • Felisa Rogers says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to convey this useful and possibly life-saving information.

    • Hermes says:

      Certainly any substance/chemical is or can be dangerous to human health; even across what many would consider a wide-spectrum of dosage levels.

      With that said, I must refer to your comment regarding Tramadol, where you said, “This medication WILL depress respiration and can kill you.”. Yes, Tramadol could potentially do so, but it’s among the weakest opioid-like substances available. I agree that in an Opioid-naive subject (someone with little to no biological adaptation to true Opioid substances) it would present a risk; however, anyone with experience with said chemicals would likely be highly disappointed by the lack of activity.

      I feel for you though. The lack of access to well-established pain medications like Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Hydromorphone, Oxymorphone, Morphine, or even Methadone (for those with severe injuries, Terminal cancer, and Chronic Neuropathic Pain) is a terrible injustice to responsible humans who are in need. Slowly this access has been progressively reduced to even the most deserving and responsible of patients in the United States. The accelerating growth in Heroin distribution is directly linked to this crackdown. While many may consider that phenomenon to be limited to ‘drug addicts’, their experience or first-hand knowledge of chronic, debilitating pain conditions (or family members) is likely extremely limited. Their opinions are not their’s at all, but are instead just information they’ve received from Television/Newpaper/Popular ‘Opinion’.

      There was a grandmother arrested in the New Orleans Area for Heroin (Di-Acetyl-Morphine) recently who exploained how her Pain management doctor had gone out of business and she had no way to access treatment any longer with most Dr’s not accepting her Medicare/Medicaid Med. Insurance. She had fractured her spine years before in a car accident and was clearly in serious pain all these years later. This inquisition-like witchhunt being waged against legitimated pain medications is out of control. Many will allude to the number of non-chronic pain consumers of these drugs as evidence of the harm to our community, but the truth is that millions of doses of opioids (legal and illegal consumption) are safely consumed every hour with a very small percentage of them resulting in harm to innocent people. Alcohol and Tobacco are the most costly substances on the planet however (in terms of Medical/Social costs, and outright DEATH). Bars are clearly setup for people to get drunk and then take to the highway, while often being conventiently located on people’s way home from their workplace.

  9. Jim says:

    Yeah nigga! I knows where to get all that shit, man!! You go down to Juarez and and look for a cat named Miguel. He wears a Red Sox jersey. Give him your money(you tell him what you’re willing to pay), let him know what you want. Give him 10 to 15 minutes to round up the Yayo, pills, and/or whatever it is you kooky kids are up to. Never mind the policia. Just MAKE SURE you carry a few hundred bucks with you to pay off those low life exploitive weasels. Have fun and live high!!

  10. Hope says:

    La descripción heráldica sería en castellano
    algo como Gules, un hombre salvaje, sosteniendo con su mano derecha su garrote y posándolo en su
    hombro derecho.

  11. Marty homms says:

    I went to Mexico last year on a cruise, needed to get a refill on my hydrocodone 10’s. I gave the doctor my bottle and he wrote me a script for 200 pills. He copied in English directly from the info on my pill bottle. I took it to Costco, SAMs club, and even the major high dollar hospital in puerto vialarto, in every case they said 1. Script must be in Spanish.. 2. None of the pharmacys stock any narcotic pain meds because they are no longer made in Mexico and narcotic Meds are totally illegal! I met this JEWISH guy who lives in a Manson overlooking the sea, (thousands of Americans live there) he was kind enough to give me a ride to his personal doctor… Same story! Even the dentists only give you OTC pills after you have work. So, the only way out was to deal with tourist pharmacies who sell pills one at a time from hidden fake coke cans.. $30 each for hydro 30’s and you have no idea if this is rat poison or what! Mexico has NO pain pills on main st. I guess if you go in an alley and risk a dope rip off (life is worthless in Mexico) you can buy dummy placebos for your monthly pill counts.. To fool the doc that you don’t sell or take too many of your own pills. Vietnam, Hong Kong, Philippines and Cambodia I’m told sell narcotics only to tourists who have passports and valid prescriptions. And the disneyworld of Oxicodone India.


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