UCLA study finds some pills sold at Mexican pharmacies contain fentanyl, heroin

The State Department issued a warning about these pills this week.
The State Department issued a warning about these pills this week. Photo credit Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – A study out of UCLA published last month found that Mexican pharmacies are selling fentanyl and meth-laced pills.

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According to the study, the pills are being sold to American tourists as other drugs, like certain opioids.

"We were just trying to say, okay, if this is happening, we want to document it," said Dr. Chelsea Shover, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, and senior author of the study.

"Because if this is happening, which we found it was – this is something people should know about," she said.

The U.S. Department of State issued a warning about these pills this week, in a wrap-up of other warnings – including one about recent violence in Mexico ahead of spring break vacation.

The pills, which are being passed off as other things like oxycodone, can contain a variety of other drugs.

"Some of the oxycodone actually contained fentanyl or heroin – both of which are much stronger opioids than oxycodone," said Shover.

"Some of the pills sold as Adderall contained methamphetamine," she said.

All of which could cause an overdose, especially for someone without a high tolerance for these types of drugs.

"Putting out a warning is really important, and I hope that there's cooperation from both countries to try to move forward and take the next steps on it," she said.

The study covered 40 pharmacies in four different cities in Northern Mexico. According to the results, around two-thirds had at "least one controlled substance for sale without a prescription, either in bottles or individual pills."

The pills containing other drugs were found at 11 pharmacies.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images