Diabetes patients turn to ‘black market’ for medications, supplies

Diabetes patients turn to ‘black market’ for medications, supplies

Diabetes patients turn to ‘black market’ for medications, supplies

Diabetes medications and blood-test supplies are sold, traded and donated on black markets because the U.S. healthcare system isn’t meeting patients’ needs, a study shows.

In a survey, about half people that participated in these underground exchanges said they are doing it because they lack access to the right medications and supplies to manage their diabetes, researchers report within the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology.

“It is vital for healthcare providers and policymakers to know what people do to support diabetes management when faced with medication and provide access issues,” said study leader Michelle Litchman of the University of Utah College of Nursing in Salt Lake City.

The price of insulin continues to extend, translating to $15 per day for the typical user, the study authors note. Recent research indicates that one in four people with diabetes ration their insulin thanks to cost, they add.

“While there are risks to using medications and supplies that aren't prescribed to them, there also are risks to rationing or not taking medications or using supplies in the least,” Litchman told Reuters Health by email.

In early 2019, the researchers surveyed 159 people that were involved in online diabetes communities, including patients and caregivers. They asked questions on underground exchange activities, access to healthcare and difficulty in purchasing diabetes items from standard sources.

More than half the survey participants said that they had donated medications or supplies, 35% received donations, 24% traded medications, 22% borrowed items and 15% purchased items. These exchanges happened among family, friends, co-workers, online acquaintances and strangers.

Overall, people that reported financial stress thanks to diabetes management were sixfold more likely to interact in underground exchanges and 3 times more likely to hunt donations.

“The current healthcare situation within the us is substandard for several people with chronic disease,” said Mary Rogers of the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, who wasn’t involved within the study.

“It is just too costly. it's too slow. it's too complicated,” she said by email. “Failure to repair these problems results in diabetic complications and unnecessary hospitalizations.

” Participants who donated medications felt compelled to offer because they knew about the dire need of others, the study authors note. These respondents described a way of duty and obligation to assist. Others built up stockpiles that they donated, including insulin, pills, glucose strips, sensors and pump supplies.

Underground exchange could lead on to many repercussions, including unanticipated side effects, complications of incorrect use, delay in seeking professional help and drug interactions, the authors caution. additionally, sharing and trading prescription medicines is against the law within the U.S. and other countries.

In this study, the researchers didn't identify any adverse events, Litchman said.

Kebede Beyene of the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, who wasn’t involved within the study, told Reuters Health, “It seems that health professionals rarely ask patients about medicine sharing, trading or exchange, so it might add up for health professionals to ask about medicines exchange during consultations and when dispensing medicines, particularly for high-risk medicines, like diabetes medications, antibiotics and powerful pain medications.”

“Patients can then tend information about the possible risks of taking someone else’s medicine or giving their prescribed medicines to a different person,” Beyene said by email. “Community pharmacy practitioners also are during a unique position to teach about risks of drugs exchange.”