Communication platforms such as social media have made it easier to find items you are looking to purchase; but with these advances come inherent dangers that we may not be aware of. As we have talked about in previous articles, insulin is a product that must be shipped and handled with the utmost care because it is subject to degradation if stored at improper temperatures. Although there are some protections in place by the FDA and other agencies to protect the integrity of the insulin products you buy, there are still some situations where insulin and other supplies are sold illegally.
A few “bad players” have found a way to purchase large quantities of non-prescription insulin products from pharmacies to sell to unsuspecting customers generally at large potential “discounts” to entice people to buy their products. They take advantage of the high insulin pricing and advertise discounted drugs. Criminals posing as patients will purchase large quantities of a store brand discounted insulin product -and use it for re-sale. Insulin should never be re-sold this way, as the potency cannot be guaranteed if it is shipped from place to place under unregulated conditions; perhaps without coolers or refrigeration at all.
Shipping insulin properly takes a lot of time and more importantly, money to keep the product from getting too hot or too cold. The insulin is clearly marked “not for re-sale”.
This is not to say that this is the case for all mail order distributors, of course. In fact the majority of distributors are reputable, and follow the rules of proper storage and handling of medications meticulously.
How to protect yourself:
- Buy diabetes products from a highly reputable company and/or pharmacy.
- Always check the dates on diabetes drugs. Return any medications that are outdated or that may expire soon.
- If test strips have been opened, return them for a new package that is unopened to ensure integrity.
Despite all the advances online, it is best to get your supplies through traditional channels. Here are three things to keep in mind if you're dealing with the high cost of insulin and other diabetes drugs and supplies:
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you or your child can tolerate only one type of insulin and it isn't covered under your insurance company's formulary (the list of drugs specific insurance policies cover) or it is covered but your co-pay is astronomical, you can appeal. Call your insurer and ask about the appeals process.
- Find out if you qualify for discount programs. Pharmaceutical companies offer hefty discounts on all types of drugs for uninsured or low-income people. If you have insurance and are struggling with deductibles and co-pays, chances are you may not qualify for these programs, but it's always worth a try. You can even call your local ADA chapter, since often people donate money so that grants are available to cover medication costs.
- Be an informed online consumer. If you do buy, sell or trade drugs and supplies online, be smart about it. Make sure insulin is shipped in an iced container, and always determine the terms of the agreement ahead of time. If a glucose monitor you ordered arrives with a malfunction, make sure you have some recourse with the seller.
Caveat Emptor - the ancient saying always applies!
Don’t forget that at TempraMed we are here to protect you and your insulin from damaging temperatures and to keep you safe.