Diabetic Patients in US Are Switching To Black Market for Their Medications

The United State healthcare system failed to meet patient’s needs and the blood-test supplies and the diabetes medications are traded, sold and donated in black markets.

In a survey, almost half of the people involved in these underground ill legal exchanges said that they are doing it because of lacking access to the proper diabetes medication and supplies. This report is published in the journal “Diabetes Science and Technology”.

The study author Michelle Litchman of the University of Utah College Of Nursing said that it is important for the policymakers and the healthcare providers to understand the engagement of people to support diabetes management when facing supply access and the medication issues.

The price of insulin is rising continuously, translating to the $15 each day for an average user. The study indicates that one in four diabetic patients rations their insulin because of the cost.

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Risks are associated with the use of medications and supplies which are not prescribed but then there is also an alarming risk in rationing and not taking the medications at all.

According to the survey, early 2019, 159 people were involved in online communities of diabetes including the caregivers and the patients. They have asked questions about access to healthcare, underground exchange activities and difficulty in purchasing diabetes medications and supplies from standard sources.

Above half of the survey participants shared that they had donated the supplies and medications, 24% traded medications, 35% received donations, and 15% purchased the item and 22% borrowed items. The exchanges took place among friends, family, online acquaintances, co-workers and strangers.

According to the report, people who have reported financial stress because of diabetes were six times more engaged in the underground exchanges and likely to seek donations three times more.

Mary Rogers of the University of Michigan said that the current healthcare situation in the United States is low and substandard for many individuals with chronic disease. She said that it is very costly, complicated and too slow. Failure to fix these issues leads to diabetic problems and unnecessary hospitalizations.

The authors note that the participants who had denoted medications felt compelled because they were aware of the dire need of others. The respondents showed a sense of obligation and duty to help. Others prepared the stockpiles that they have donated including pills, insulin, sensors, glucose strips and pump supplies.

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The authors caution that underground exchanges lead to several repercussions which include unanticipated side effects, delay in professional help, and complications of wrongs use. The trading and sharing of prescription medicines are illegal in the United States and other countries.

Kebede Beyene of the University of Auckland who wasn’t involved in the study said that health professionals barely ask diabetic patients about medicine exchange, sharing or trading so this will make sense for them to ask about the medicine exchanges during the consultation sessions and during dispensing medicines, especially for high-risk medicines such as antibiotics, diabetes medications, and strong pain killers. Community pharmacists are in a good position to educate about the risks related to the medicine exchange.



Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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