On 8-1-10 the law here changed. I live in the interior. In the state of Guanajuato. Anti-biotics became restricted, nationwide. Meaning you need a receta. It will ease up. The government is doing a media blitz about it right now. Once everything calms down you should be back in business with anti-biotics. Though, most of the larger pharmacy chains, such as Ahorro and Similares, have doctors on staff. Right in the store, or nearby. At Similares it costs about 25 pesos and at some Ahorro locations seeing the doctor is free.
As for pain meds all of the stories you hear about Mexico are just that. Stories. Narcotics are STRICTLY controlled and almost never dispensed in take home form. They can only be prescribed by an anesthesiologist. A family physician can not, under any circumstance. And then you will play hell finding a pharmacy that has it in stock. Which will be none of them in a small town. Very difficult.
Which is one of many odd and frustrating quirks in Mexican law. Regarding anything, medicine or otherwise.
However, an interesting loophole I noticed is that Tramadol and Temgesic are sold freely over the counter. This must be because they are not an opiate exactly, for lack of a better way to say it. They can not be neatly classified the way something like hydrocodone for example. And in the chaos that is Mexican law those 2 slipped through the cracks.
The Tramadol is sold freely. The Temgesic is a little trickier but I am a nurse practitioner in private practice here. So, they sell things to me that they might not to other people. Though technically, they can sell it without a receta. The Temgesic is available for injection only, but they also sell syringes freely. No questions, no nothing. Ever.
Benzodiazapines are also available. By prescription and only sold in one or 2 pharmacies per town. Never in the Similares or Ahorro Farmacias. Always sold in private pharmacies owned by and physically located in private hospitals. But again, easy for me to obtain. Which is interesting because I do not have a Mexican Substancias Controlada number. They only ask for my US DEA number, which is long expired, and often not even for that. Benzoīs are a little expensive here. About $40 for 20 pills, depending on the marca. The brand. Patent medicine is still a huge business here.
Law is capricious and hit or miss here I suppose, and I have been here long enough and practicing that they know me and have eased up. Plus most people in positions of authority donīt even know the laws they are supposed to be enforcing. It really is a bit of a lawless place.
Government is fractured, complicated, cumbersome and in many instances just plain dumb.
Actually they are easy for anyone to obtain because if you know enough to tell the doctor what you want, he or she will write for it. No questions. Ever. These people labor under the impression that they are working FOR YOU. There is little or no haughty doctor attitude that you might expect in the States. Mexican people are very polite, very careful not to offend and avoid confrontation to the point that getting anything done can be a chore. The cultural mores are many.
2 years ago I got ill. Sick enough to be a bit scared. So I went to a doctor in a private hospital. I had my own thoughts about what was going on but wanted to hear another opinion. A doctor, someone far more educated than myself. Or so I thought. It is not a good idea to practice medicine on ones self.
Anyway, we were talking and I kept waiting for the punch line. Any minute now he will tell me what he thinks, and what I need to do. No, instead he asked me what I thought. I told him, he agreed. We agreed on the medication and that was it.
Mexican GPīs go to school for 5 years. That is it. Specializing requires more. One year of internship and another year of social service. Social service is required if you went to a school that is subsidized by the government. They are recouping on their investment. It is a fairly good little system. But, the point is that I went to school longer than the doctor I was seeking help from. It is a different world my friends.
I strongly concur with the other poster who advises staying away from border towns. And I would like to add tourist hot spots to the list of places to avoid. In real Mexico, the interior, things are different.
I hope this is helpful to someone. Feel free to PM me if you have questions. No subject is off limits and I do not judge. I had my own bout with addiction and pain control, so I get it. I am about harm reduction, not preaching.
Be careful out there. I wouldnīt put just any pill in my mouth that is sent to you by a dude named Jose working in an online farmacia in Guadalajara. But thatīs just me....