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Lack of insurance drives El Pasoans across the border for healthcare
Date:2/20/2009

One-third of El Paso's residents cross the Texas-Mexico border to Ciudad Juarez to purchase medication and health care services, according to a study by researchers at The University of Texas School of Public Health El Paso Regional campus.

Results from this study are published in the February issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association.

"This is the first report on the patterns of cross-border purchase of health care and medications from a random sample of persons living in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez," said Victor Cardenas, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H, associate professor of epidemiology at the UT School of Public Health. Other study investigators were Jose Rivera, Pharm.D, director of The University of Texas at Austin Cooperative Pharmacy Program at El Paso; and Melchor Ortiz, Ph.D., professor of biostatistics at the UT School of Public Health.

According to the authors, cross-border medication shopping and medical attention can present health dangers, including medications laced with toxic substances that are banned in the U.S. market; incorrect medications or dosage prescribed by unqualified personnel; and counterfeit medications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Texas State Board of Pharmacy do not have any strict regulations against cross-border medication and U.S. Customs typically allows the entry of limited quantities of medications, Cardenas said.

The study found while 33 percent travel from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez, only 5.2 percent travel from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso seeking more affordable and easily accessible medication and health care services.

According to an estimate of the Pan-American Health Organization, 11.5 million people lived in counties along the U.S-Mexico border in 2000. There are an estimated 2.3 million people living in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, making it the largest bi-national metropolitan area in the U.S., according to the City of El Paso.

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Contact: Jade Waddy
jade.waddy@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3307
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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