Do You Need Prescription For Viagra In Mexico

Beyond the Border: Americans find lower prices on prescription drugs in Tijuana

TIJUANA, Baja California — Prescription drug prices in the United States are among the highest in the world. Frequently, the same drugs can cost less in Mexico.

News 8 traveled beyond the border with a hidden camera to check out pharmacies in Tijuana.

Before we crossed the border, we contacted several Tijuana pharmacies to request on-camera interviews. They did not respond.

One of the biggest pharmacy chains in Tijuana is Farmacia La Más Barata. We pulled in with cameras rolling.

Our producer requested a drug called Invokana, which requires a prescription in the United States. It’s used by diabetics to lower blood sugar. Invokana is approved in the U.S. for use by type-2 diabetics.

Frequently, the drug is taken “off-label” by type-1 diabetics as well, which means insurance companies don’t cover the costs. In Mexico, you don’t need a prescription to buy Invokana. A 30-day supply will cost you about $500 without insurance in the United States. In Tijuana, it’s about 86 percent cheaper. We purchased a 30-day supply for $67.

The next prescription drug we purchased in Tijuana is much more popular on both sides of the border: Viagra. In Tijuana, the generic form of Viagra, called Sildenafil, costs about $20 for 10 pills. That’s about the same price you’ll pay for generic Viagra in the United States without insurance.

In the U.S. you need a prescription to buy Viagra; in Mexico you don’t. It’s available at, pretty much, any pharmacy in Tijuana.

San Diegans we ran into in Tijuana told us when it comes to prescription drugs, it’s all about the price.

“To be quite frankly honest I think healthcare in America is over the top and too expensive,” said Daniel Bracken, a resident of University City.

“I’ve lived in Europe. I’ve lived all over the place. For me, medication is medication. If I can get it cheaper I’m going to get it cheaper,” Bracken said.

If you take a close look at pharmacies in Tijuana, you’ll notice there’s frequently a doctor’s office right next door. For a consultation fee, the on-site doctors will examine you and, if needed, write a prescriptions for more powerful drugs like pain killers.

When we asked for Vicodin at one pharmacy, we were told we could get codeine instead for a $12 consultation fee.Or, we could get another pain killer that does not require a doctor’s prescription in Mexico called Tramadol.

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid, which is not as strong as Vicodin or oxycodone. Still, the narcotic Tramadol is listed as a schedule IV controlled substance in all 50 states. We were able to purchase 60 Tramadol pills for $48 in Tijuana without a prescription. Because it’s a controlled substance, however, we did not want to risk declaring it at the border without a prescription from a doctor in the U.S.

Later, we crossed the border and declared the Invokana and the generic Viagra to a U.S. Customs offer at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

The officer asked if we had a prescription for the Viagra and our producer responded, “No,” declaring that he and a News 8 photographer were bringing back a two-month supply of Viagra.

Even without a prescription from a doctor in the U.S., we were allowed through the border into the United States with the drugs we purchased in Tijuana.

It’s important to note, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises U.S. citizens not to import medicine or prescription drugs from Mexico.

“FDA cannot assure that such products have been properly manufactured and are effective,” according to the agency’s online advisory.

“In most circumstances, it is illegal for individuals to import drugs into the United States for personal use,” the FDA advisory states.