At the beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump vowed to lower the cost of prescription and over-the-counter drugs for all Americans. And while Congress continues to hash out a healthcare plan, we’re seeing a steady stream of Americans seeking relief south of the border in Mexico.
“You go to Europe, you go to Canada, you go to other countries and you buy them for a fraction of what you pay in this country,” said President Trump during a Black Caucus meeting in March.
Add Mexico to that list.
In Nuevo Progreso, just across the border from Progreso, Texas, more than 800,000 people crossed over in 2016, in part, seeking affordable options for their healthcare needs.
From controlled substances to over-the-counter pills, dental clinics, and pharmacies, there's a good chance you’ll get a lot more than you bargained for.
“A lot of people get this one,” said Maria Hernandez as she showed us a bottle of 100 pills of amoxicillin, a prescription medication for treating ulcers.
The 65-year-old and her sister had just crossed back into the U.S. with several medications like she’s done all her life.
Hernandez then pulled out another bottle from her shopping bag: $23 worth of 100 chlorpropamide pills. It's anti-diabetic medication that she said costs 3 or 4 times more in the U.S.
Hernandez isn’t just shopping for herself either. Some of the meds are for her sister, who’s visiting from Florida, and the rest are for her son who lives in Michigan.
“Everybody puts in their little list. ‘Get me this, get me that,’” Hernandez said.
Not all medication is allowed to cross, though, as Esteban and Flavia Mora found out.
Flavia asked a customs officer if she could cross Alprazolam, better known by its brand name Xanax, a powerful pain killer. Flavia said that she was warned she would get in trouble if she gets caught in possession of Xanax bought in Mexico.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a person may cross a three-month supply of medication from Mexico provided they declare it in while in its original container and it's accompanied by a doctor’s prescription, which a person can get in Mexico or in the U.S.
The CBP in this Texas sector confiscated about 90 lbs. of prescription meds and steroids last year, compared to 144,000 lbs. of marijuana.
"Meds in Mexico will cure or kill you," Esteban joked.
He claims that Mexican meds not only cheaper but more effective than their American counterparts.
“We’re going to bid out drug prices and we’re going to try to have the lowest prices all over the world from, really, the highest,” President Trump said back in March.
Until that gets sorted out, people are continuing to turn to our neighbors, both to the north and south, in hopes of finding relief for the pain not only in their bodies but in their wallets.