Is It Safe to Buy Azithromycin In Mexico?

Azithromycin is one of the many antibiotics usually purchased by Americans and others in Mexico. It’s no secret that drug and pharmaceutical prices in the United States can be outrageously expensive at times. Recent media reports have mentioned how many people are seeking to purchase drugs in other countries or online. Many common drugs available in the United States including azithromycin can be purchased in Mexico, often at a significant reduction in cost.

Azithromycin is used to treat certain bacterial infections, such as bronchitis; pneumonia; sexually transmitted diseases (STD); and infections of the ears, lungs, sinuses, skin, throat, and reproductive organs. Azithromycin also is used to treat or prevent disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection [a type of lung infection that often affects people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)]. Azithromycin is in a class of medications called macrolide antibiotics. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria.

Azithromycin has been proposed as a treatment for COVID-19, with in-vitro studies suggesting activity against some viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Using antibiotics when they are not needed increases your risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.

What is Azithromycin called in Mexico?

Beyond the popular Zithromax produced by Pfizer, there are several other brands of azithromycin in Mexico they include:

  • Z-Pak
  • Marzivag
  • Azitromicina
  • Craztronin
  • Zertalin

Can you buy Azithromycin Over the counter in Mexico?

Generally, some prescription drugs in the U.S. are readily available over the counter in Mexico without you needing to provide a prescription. You can also easily buy birth control pills and antibiotics like azithromycin from a pharmacy without having to see a doctor (and, they’re affordable). If in doubt, head to a pharmacy and ask what they have to offer for your ailment. They’ll likely have just what you need without you having to visit a doctor. 

However, some drugs like Xanax and Vicodin, though, will require your U.S. prescription for you to buy them. 

It is important to note that a new law in Mexico mandates everyone who buys antibiotics south of the border must have a prescription from a Mexican doctor. For years, Americans have crossed the border to Tijuana to buy cheap antibiotics without prescriptions. Mexican public health officials say up to 60 percent of all the antibiotics Mexican pharmacies sell are to people who self-medicate.

The U.S. government estimates that close to 1 million people in California alone cross to Mexico annually for health care, including to buy prescription drugs. And between 150,000 and 320,000 Americans list health care as a reason for traveling abroad each year. Cost savings is the most commonly cited reason. U.S. law requires medicine brought into the country to be accompanied by a doctor’s prescription, no matter where it is bought.

How should Mexican azithromycin be used?

Generally in Mexico and elsewhere in the world, azithromycin comes as a tablet, an extended-release (long-acting) suspension (liquid), and a suspension (liquid) to take by mouth. The tablets and suspension (Zithromax) are usually taken with or without food once a day for 1–5 days. When used for the prevention of disseminated MAC infection, azithromycin tablets are usually taken with or without food once weekly. The extended-release suspension (Zmax) is usually taken on an empty stomach (at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal) as a one-time dose. To help you remember to take azithromycin, take it around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take azithromycin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Shake the liquid well before each use to mix the medication evenly. Use a dosing spoon, oral syringe, or measuring cup to measure the correct amount of medication. Rinse the measuring device with water after taking the full dose of medication.

If you receive azithromycin powder for suspension (Zithromax) in the single-dose, 1-gram packet, you must first mix it with water before you take the medication. Mix the contents of the 1-gram packet with 1/4 cup (60 mL) of water in a glass and consume the entire contents immediately. Add an additional 1/4 cup (60 mL) of water to the same glass, mix, and consume the entire contents to ensure that you receive the entire dose.

If you receive azithromycin extended-release suspension (Zmax) as a dry powder, you must first add water to the bottle before you take the medication. Open the bottle by pressing down on the cap and twisting. Measure 1/4 cup (60 mL) of water, and add to the bottle. Close the bottle tightly, and shake well to mix. Use the azithromycin extended-release suspension within 12 hours of receiving it from the pharmacy or after adding water to the powder.

If you vomit within an hour after taking azithromycin, call your doctor right away. Your doctor will tell you if you need to take another dose. Do not take another dose unless your doctor tells you to do so.

You should begin to feel better during the first few days of treatment with azithromycin. If your symptoms do not improve, or get worse, call your doctor.

Take azithromycin until you finish the prescription, even if you feel better. Do not stop taking azithromycin unless you experience the severe side effects. If you stop taking azithromycin too soon or skip doses, your infection may not be completely treated and the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.

What are the side effects of Mexican azithromycin?

The side effects of azithromycin are the same globally, common azithromycin side effects may include:

  • diarrhea;
  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain; or
  • headache.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

 Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to azithromycin: (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning in your eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling).

Seek medical treatment if you have a serious drug reaction that can affect many parts of your body. Symptoms may include: skin rash, fever, swollen glands, flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, severe weakness, unusual bruising, or yellowing of your skin or eyes. This reaction may occur several weeks after you began using azithromycin.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe stomach pain, diarrhea that is watery or bloody;
  • fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness (like you might pass out); or
  • liver problems – nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Call your doctor right away if a baby taking azithromycin becomes irritable or vomits while eating or nursing.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects on heart rhythm, including a life-threatening fast heart rate.

Azithromycin Safety Information

  • Abnormal heart rhythm warning. In some people, azithromycin may cause an abnormal heart rhythm called QT prolongation. The risk of this condition is increased if you already have certain problems with your heart rhythm or if you take other drugs that may also cause QT prolongation. The risk is also increased in older adults. QT prolongation is very serious, and it may even be fatal in some cases. If you have any problems with your heart rhythm, tell your doctor before taking azithromycin. Also tell your doctor about all other medications you’re taking before starting this drug.
  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhea warning. Almost all antibiotics, including azithromycin, can cause diarrhea. The drug may cause mild diarrhea to severe inflammation of your colon, which can cause death. Call your doctor if you have severe diarrhea or diarrhea that lasts after you stop taking this drug.
  • Liver problems warning. In rare cases, this drug can cause liver problems. If you already have liver disease, it could worsen your liver function. During treatment with azithromycin, your doctor may need to monitor your liver function. They may do blood tests to check how well your liver is working. If your liver isn’t working well, your doctor may have you stop taking this drug.
  • Myasthenia gravis warning. Azithromycin can worsen symptoms of myasthenia gravis, a condition that causes symptoms such as weakness in muscles used for movement. Azithromycin can also cause a similar condition called myasthenic syndrome. If you have myasthenia gravis, be sure to tell your doctor before taking azithromycin.

If you’re considering buying Azithromycin in Mexico, always consider the following:

  1. Prescription Requirement: In Mexico, antibiotics like Azithromycin typically require a prescription. While it may be available for purchase from pharmacies, it’s important to obtain it with a valid prescription from a Mexican healthcare provider.
  2. Quality and Authenticity: When purchasing medications in any country, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re getting a genuine product from a reputable source. Stick to licensed pharmacies and avoid purchasing medications from unregulated or dubious sources.
  3. Consultation with Healthcare Provider: Before taking any antibiotic, including Azithromycin, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider. They can assess your condition and determine if Azithromycin is the appropriate treatment for your specific situation. They can also provide guidance on dosage and potential side effects.
  4. Travel Restrictions: If you plan to bring Azithromycin back to your home country from Mexico, be aware of any regulations or restrictions regarding the importation of medications. Some countries have strict regulations on bringing medications across borders, especially if they contain controlled substances.
  5. Cost Considerations: While medications in Mexico may be cheaper than in some other countries, consider the overall cost including any consultation fees, travel expenses, and potential importation fees if applicable.

Always prioritize your health and safety when considering purchasing medications, and ensure you’re following all applicable laws and regulations. If you have any doubts or concerns, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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