The Black Market Insulin Safety Concerns You Need to Know

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Playing Meet Woman Forced to Buy Insulin from Strangers to Survive

The financial strains of the ongoing COVID pandemic have caused people to go without insulin or ration their insulin -- and some are forced to go to even more extreme measures -- the black market.

Some types of insulins have tripled in price recently and those in need are turning to family members and social media to seek out insulin surpluses. The Doctors note no one should ever share prescribed medications like insulin and getting the diabetes-treatment from a stranger can be dangerous.

D.J., who has Type 1 diabetes tells us she was not able to afford insulin and resorted to rationing. She was able to get some from an online neighborhood group but ended up in the hospital with diabetic ketoacidosis because she had to continue to ration what she had. She was admitted to the ICU because of her lack of access to insulin. D.J. is happy to share she is now getting proper healthcare and is getting her insulin, but says this issue is affecting many people and in the online neighborhood group she used, there were 5 other people who could not find or afford their insulin.

Dr. Michelle Litchman, who has studied this issue, says our current healthcare system is not set up in a way where people can afford their insulin. She says if people are in an extreme situation and need to share insulin, there are key questions they should be asking, including:

  • Has the medication been refrigerated?
  • Has it been exposed to extreme temperatures? 
  • Has it ever been opened or is it expired?

Endocrinologist Dr. Afreen Shariff warns that insulin can become dangerous very easily when not stored properly and at the right temperature. She also says if the seal on the hormone is broken (or is being used by multiple people) it could lead to a blood-borne infection.

Dr. Shariff says patients who are having trouble paying for insulin can contact their doctor or the drug company which makes the insulin and ask about a discount or savings card, which helps to provide free or low-cost insulin in the short-term. A long-term solution is speaking to your doctor about a cheaper type of insulin, which might be less convenient to inject, but is much more affordable. 

Watch: The Great Lengths Some Diabetics Go Just to Get Insulin

Watch: How Teen Learned to Thrive with Diabetes

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Playing What to Know If You’re Going to Buy Black Market Insulin

 

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