Nogales is a busy crossing town, since I-19 brings commercial trucking and vehicles north and south across the Arizona-Mexico border. But you can still walk across the border, so I joined hundreds of other pedestrians who crossed on foot. On the Arizona side, the main street to the border is lined with shops selling cheap shoes, baby clothes, and costume jewelry. On the Mexican side, the street is lined with farmacias
, pharmacies selling name brand drugs that would require a prescription a hundred yards away in Arizona.
Thousands of U.S citizens cross the border
each year to buy their prescription drugs in Mexico, since the costs can be significantly less. I saw medicines for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux, and impotence all on sale along the Farmacia Plaza, at prices less than half of what they go for in the U.S.
A decade ago, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration survey found that 46 percent of Americans returning with medication from Mexico were 51 years or older and that they most commonly bought antibiotics, as well as drugs for diabetes, estrogen replacement, arthritis, impotence and pain. Americans with chronic ailments particularly have a hard time paying for their medicines.
Anyone living in the U.S. knows that our health care costs are out of control and prescription drug costs are skyrocketing. Medicare part D, the prescription drug benefit, gave some relief to seniors, but people under 65 still struggle to pay for medications, even if they have health insurance.
Many Mexicans who cross into the U.S. look for cheap consumer goods, and opportunities for work. Many U.S. citizens who cross into Mexico look for cheap prescription drugs. These facts say much more about us in the U.S. than about our neighbors to the south.