More people are turning to the black market for lifesaving medications

A report in Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology found that a lack of access and affordability are among the major reasons people with chronic illnesses are using the black market to obtain medication.

A report in Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology found that a lack of access and affordability are among the major reasons people with chronic illnesses are using the black market to obtain medication. "In some cases, people have had to go to extreme measures and find a network that can supply their health care needs," said Michelle Litchman, PhD, lead author and an assistant professor at the University of Utah. People use online channels such as social media and websites to find medications and supplies. The black market is especially prominent among people living with diabetes. "For some, they simply cannot afford what they need, even if they have health insurance," said Litchman. "For others, they cannot easily access what they need within a reasonable timeframe—delays occurring due to delayed provider refills or insurances requiring prior authorization." Joel Farley, PhD, a professor at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, notes the price of many common forms of insulin has tripled over the past decade. "As the price goes up, patients that cannot afford treatment are forced to make decisions about whether to continue using the medication as prescribed, or ration their doses," he said, calling the current situation "a function of a failed market."