The “Gray Market” for Diabetes Test Strips

The “Gray Market” for Diabetes Test Strips

We’ve reported on the growing insulin problem that has caused people to ration insulin and has even caused death.

Insulin is not the only diabetes supply with out-of-control costs. Diabetes test strips are also extremely costly. Their cost has led to a “gray market” for test strips, where people sell their unused strips to a dealer who sells them at a cheaper price.

Gray market for test strips

This market is strong in New York City’s Harlem, where the New York Times recently reported on this “strange marketplace” for diabetes test strips at a a local storefront. There are also many online sites that resell unused test strips.

The underground market for test strips is more evidence of the prevalence of diabetes, not to mention how people with diabetes are in dire need of more affordable healthcare.

As long as a patient does not get the test strips from Medicare or Medicaid, it’s technically legal to resell them.


History of diabetes test strips

Scientists developed diabetes test strips in 1965 to give an instant blood sugar reading. To use a test strip, the patient pricks their finger, places a drop of blood on the strip, and inserts it into a meter that reads their blood sugar level.  According to  a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, one in seven diabetes patients uses test strip regularly. Many people with diabetes have to perform a finger-prick test up to 10 times a day.

Originally diabetes test strips were used in doctor’s offices, but in 1980, the meters became available for home use.

Now, test strips are a massive industry for diabetes. Only four manufacturers make up half of all test strip sales around the world.

With test strips costing over $100.00 for a box of 100 strips, no wonder this gray market has come into being.

The price of test strips is especially a problem for those who are not insured or underinsured, who have to pay high prices out of pocket.

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