People diagnosed with diabetes spend more than $3,000 per year on supplies, according to 2018 estimates from the American Diabetes Association, and test strips are a crucial part of their daily routine. The thin slivers of paper are used with a glucose monitor several times a day to check blood sugar levels, so patients can determine how much insulin they need to inject to control their condition.
A number of companies — such as Test Strip Search, Fast Cash Strips, Diabetic Strips 4 Cash and others — buy unused supplies from people who have too many.
They resell them via online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Craigslist. Even a search for “diabetes test strips” on social media sites such as Facebook brings up a number of groups and posts offering to buy or sell the strips.
This flourishing secondhand commerce is catching the attention of manufacturers, patients’ advocates and federal health officials. It’s a profitable “gray market” in which products are redirected through nonstandard channels of distribution. And it’s perfectly legal.
Yunxuan Gu is currently pursing her master’s degree in journalism at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Chris Herbert is a freelance journalist and graduate student at the University of Georgia. His interests lie in health, investigations, content moderation, security and privacy. Chris’s previous work has appeared in Yahoo!.
Sam Jones is a University of Georgia graduate student studying journalism.
Naomi Thomas is an Athens-based intern for Georgia Health News. Click here to see their full post on Georgia Health News.