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‘Gray Market’ For Blood Sugar Test Strips Popping Up In North Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Signs have been cropping up in North Philadelphia that advertise, “Cash for diabetic test strips.” They’re part of a growing “gray market” in an expensive medical supply.

The strips, which measure blood glucose levels, can cost as much as a dollar apiece but insurance reduces that amount. The “cash for strips” business buys extra strips at that reduced rate and resells them for a profit.

Doctors often counsel diabetic patients to test several times a day, but diabetes educator Nadine Uplinger says many people don’t like to test and the incentive of cash endangers their health, “We want people to test, but they don’t have a lot of resources and if they don’t want to bother testing and they can get money for it, I’m sure they’re doing it.”

Uplinger was outraged when the signs appeared outside Einstein’s clinic in North Philadelphia. The practice is legal, unless the strips are purchased through Medicare and Medicaid, but Uplinger finds it unethical, “They’re targeting North Philly, which is underserved to begin with, and it was upsetting to myself and my colleagues to see that they’re targeting this population when we’re trying so desperately to get people to test their blood sugar so that they can better self-manage their disease.”

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio 1060

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  • Michael Jay

    I forgot to mention….The demand for low cost test strips far outweighs our donations. Proof there is a great need for quality care and supplies for diabetics that is affordable.

  • Michael Jay

    I am in the test strips business. I dont buy them. I get my test trips by donation only. We sell them to under and non-insured diabetics that CAN NOT AFFORD TO BUY THEM AT RETAIL PRICES.

    The retail price of test strips are so over priced they just lines the pockets of rich drug company executives off the wallets of diabetics that need them!

    We run Proceeds from our sales of donated test strips go direct to the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetic Research Foundation) to fund research to cure this desease.

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