Price of medication fuels black market - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

5 Investigates

Price of medication fuels black market

PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Millions of Americans face an impossible decision each month. They must choose between paying for food or medication they need to keep their children or themselves alive.

One study conducted by the health policy organization, The Commonwealth Fund, found that 48 million Americans chose not to fill prescriptions in 2010 because of the cost.

The result is a black market for prescription medication that has doctors and other health advocates worried.

"The most concerning thing for a physician, for us at the poison center is that maybe the quality isn't the same," said Dr. Frank LoVecchio, who is the co-medical director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.

LoVecchio told CBS 5 Investigates that the black market lends itself to drugs for chronic conditions, which need to be taken every day.

People like Lucia Maya, who has lived with Type One Diabetes since she was 12 years old, know the cost associated with needing to take medication several times per day. She is a Reiki instructor, who owns her own business and does not have insurance.

"It means I have to buy all of my medications, my testing supplies, anything that I use to keep alive I have to pay for and it's expensive," said Maya.

Maya purchases her insulin from an online pharmacy located outside the country. She said it helps her keep expenses down. Those expenses would easily top $500 per month without her efforts to buy her medication outside the normal channels.

Although she uses due diligence to make sure the pharmacies she uses are reputable, she has received warm insulin in the mail before. When insulin becomes warm, it loses its effectiveness.

Earlier this year, the FDA moved to shutter more than 1,600 online pharmacies the agency alleged were selling counterfeit, substandard and in some cases, fake medications.

The black market is also fed with medications that were stolen in multi-million dollar heists and robberies. The total value of stolen pharmaceuticals reaches into the tens of millions of dollars  in the United States each year.

A CBS 5 Investigation found insulin and asthma medication for sale on Craigslist here in Phoenix.

One seller said he gets his with his insurance and sells any extra he has left at the end of the month.

"I give them a deep enough cut to where anyone can afford to come, you know, buy it if they need it," said the seller, who charged $35 dollar for a bottle of insulin that would normally sell for $125.

In Arizona, it is illegal for anyone outside of a licensed pharmacy to sell any injectable drugs. The seller said he understands the consequences.

"I know that there's a lot of people out there that can't afford to buy their insulin. And I've been there," he said.

If you have any questions about the medications you have purchased online, on the street or in a normal pharmacy, click on this link for a website that can help distinguish between legitimate medications and counterfeits.

Dr. LoVecchio from the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center said buyers should avoid purchasing any drug from an unknown source, but especially drugs that can be easily tampered with or diluted. He mentioned capsules and vials of intravenous medications.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

  • NewsMore>>

  • 'Golden State Killer' suspect arrested, is former police officer

    'Golden State Killer' suspect arrested, is former police officer

    Wednesday, April 25 2018 12:57 PM EDT2018-04-25 16:57:26 GMT
    Wednesday, April 25 2018 4:07 PM EDT2018-04-25 20:07:08 GMT

    The 72-year-old suspect has been identified as a former police officer and "nice guy."

    More >>

    The 72-year-old suspect has been identified as a former police officer and "nice guy."

    More >>
  • Macron urges US to reject isolationism

    Macron urges US to reject isolationism

    Wednesday, April 25 2018 11:30 AM EDT2018-04-25 15:30:41 GMT
    Wednesday, April 25 2018 4:12 PM EDT2018-04-25 20:12:04 GMT
    (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais). French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he is introduced before speaking to a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais). French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he is introduced before speaking to a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
    French President Emmanuel Macron extolled the "special bond" between the United States and France during his speech in front of a joint meeting of Congress.More >>
    French President Emmanuel Macron extolled the "special bond" between the United States and France during his speech in front of a joint meeting of Congress.More >>
  • Lax vetting on Trump nominees begins to frustrate senators

    Lax vetting on Trump nominees begins to frustrate senators

    Wednesday, April 25 2018 12:47 AM EDT2018-04-25 04:47:40 GMT
    Wednesday, April 25 2018 4:11 PM EDT2018-04-25 20:11:56 GMT
    (AP Photo/Alex Brandon). CIA director Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan Pompeo arrive for a State Dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump at the White House, Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon). CIA director Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan Pompeo arrive for a State Dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump at the White House, Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in Washington.

    As President Donald Trump's pick to lead Veterans Affairs skids to a halt, senators from both parties are voicing frustration that the White House is skipping crucial vetting of nominees and leaving lawmakers to...

    More >>

    As President Donald Trump's pick to lead Veterans Affairs skids to a halt, senators from both parties are voicing frustration that the White House is skipping crucial vetting of nominees and leaving lawmakers to clean up the mess.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly