Medications and supplies for chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma are expensive, especially for the uninsured. But who thought that Craigslist would be a supplier of choice, instead of the local CVS or Costco?
I’ve seen a handwritten sign or two scattered about the New York City area offering to pay cash for diabetes test strips. But it never occurred to me to go on Craigslist.
Spurred by a recent blog post on KevinMd.com titled “The surprising ways patients get drugs” by Pamela Wible, M.D., I went on over to Craigslist and searched. Looks like there’s a big cash marketplace there (see screenshot below).
Wible wrote of a patient who got diabetes meds from a neighbor, and bought asthma inhalers out of the back of a Jaguar at the Walmart gas station. Quoting the patient, she wrote:
“Well, the cheapest inhaler is 52 bucks. So I basically can’t afford to breathe. On Craigslist, I found some for ten bucks. I contacted the guy, and he met me at the Walmart gas station in a black Jaguar. I went to the door. He asked if I was Tom. Then he said, ‘You know this is illegal.’”
“He let me in the car and he opened up a box. Each inhaler was in an individually sealed silver pouch. I took all twelve and handed him 120 bucks. Said he could use the money ‘cause him and his wife split up. He was wealthy. When his wife left him, he just ended up with the car. And the inhalers he got through her insurance.”
The trade for diabetes test strips is pretty active on Craigslist. One dealer writes: “We are looking for most brands and are willing to pay you up to $30 for some brands. Please call me with brand, amount on hand, expiration dates, and I will give you a cash offer.”
Another: “We are looking for most brands and are willing to pay you up to $30 for some brands. Boxes most be intact. Please call me with brand, amount on hand, expiration dates, and I will give you a cash offer. CALL JOE at NUMBER listed in contact info.”
Also below: asthma inhalers. Hard to find in New York and Los Angeles when we looked; easier in Texas: $15 per.
Who’s buying and who’s selling? Anybody with any thoughts, let us know at info (at) clearhealthcost (dot) com.