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Lesson Transcript

Culture File: Mexico - Lesson 22: Pharmacies
Hello, and welcome to the Culture File: Mexico series at SpanishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring essential cultural information about Mexico, Mexican Culture, and Mexican People. In this lesson, we will continue with another episode of this series about Mexican economic activities. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 22: Pharmacies.
Along with the health care services, the pharmaceutical industry also plays an important role in Mexico’s economy, representing 45% of the expenditure in this sector. This makes up about 1% of the country’s gross domestic product spendings, which is one third higher compared to developed countries. This additional expenditure is a consequence of mishandling of medications in general, and the popular belief that original brand medications are better and more effective than generic versions.
Mexican pharmacies or "farmacias" sell most of their medicines without a prescription or "receta"; only specific medications such as antibiotics or drugs that cause dependence cannot be bought over-the-counter. Other drugs that require prescriptions in many other countries but are not heavily regulated can be bought over-the-counter in Mexico, such as antidepressants, birth control pills, and heart medications. This setup led to an array of medication use problems, including irrational medication use, over- or under-dosage, and treatments taken during the wrong period of time. This medication misuse even worsened some people’s medical conditions, causing them to need alternate or additional medications, leading to increased medical expenses.
Another interesting characteristic of Mexican pharmacies is that the presence of a healthcare professional is not required during business hours. Usually, it is people without any professional training who are in charge of dispensing and selling medications. However, it is required for there to be a person who is in charge of the paperwork and is responsible for all activity on the premises that has a valid license or "licencia", either in the capacity of a chemist, or "químico", or as a pharmacist, or "farmacéutico". Since pharmaceuticals is a relatively new career path in Mexico, there aren’t enough licensed pharmacists to cover the market, so chemists are allowed to serve in their place.
It is well documented that for years, many Americans and Canadians have travelled to Mexico to buy medications or "medicamentos", to take advantage of the country’s cheaper prices and lack of prescription requirements.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Are the pharmacies in your country similar to the Mexican pharmacies?
Leave a comment telling us at SpanishPod101.com! Until next time!