2 Investigators: The Black Market For Diabetes Test Strips

2 Investigators: The Black Market For Diabetes Test Strips

November 3, 2019 1 By Jose Scott


TONIGHT, 2 INVESTIGATOR BRAD EDWARDS EXPOSES A BLACK MARKET FOR MEDICAL SUPPLIES NEEDED BY DIABETICS. IT STARTED WHEN WE SAW THE SIGNS OFFERING CASH FOR TESTING STRIPS. AS BRAD REPORTS, THERE’S A COST HERE TO BOTH PATIENTS AND TAXPAYERS. YOU HAVE CASH HERE? YEAH, I HAVE CASH. LET ME SEE WHAT YOU GOT. FROM A SUBURB STRIP MALL — IS THAT WHAT YOU GOT THERE? Reporter: — TO A GROCERY MART, IT’S A MEDICAL BLACK MARKET. WHAT THEY’RE DOING IS NOT EXPRESSLY LEGAL. THERE COULD BE 40. Reporter: BOXES OF DIABETIC TEST STRIPS. TABS USED TO MONITOR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS FOR THE COUNTRY’S ABOUT 30 MILLION DIABETICS. WE SAW HER ADVERTISING TO BUY UNUSED STRIPS ON CRAIGSLIST. ON CRAIGSLIST, THERE’S SELLERS WITH FISTS FULL OF CASH. MIDDLEMEN BUYERS OFFERED US 10 TO 20 BUCKS FOR A 50-STRIP BOX THAT RETAILS FOR $50. THIS SOUNDS LIKE A FRAUD. Reporter: FEDERAL PROSECUTOR MARIATI WORKS SUCH CASES. A 2014 AUDIT IDENTIFIED $425 MILLION WORTH OF QUESTIONABLE, MEDICARE TEST STRIPS SPENDING. MEDICARE FRAUD IS RAMPANT. SOMEBODY FINDING A WAY TO GET SOMETHING FREE OUT OF THE SYSTEM. Reporter: BRAD HART AUDITS THE STATE’S $20 BILLION IN MEDICAID SPENDING. HE SAYS STRIP SELLERS ARE OFTEN DIABETICS COVERED BY MEDICAID. THEY HAVE STRIPS TO SELL BECAUSE THEY’RE UNDERTESTING OR RECEIVING TOO MANY. THE RECIPIENT IS LOOKING FOR CASH. AND THIS NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED. Reporter: A SPECIALIST SAYS IT’S NOT RIGHT THAT SOME DIABETICS HAVE EXTRA STRIPS TO SELL WHILE OTHERS ARE FORCED TO SEARCH FOR BLACK MARKET DEALS. A PERSON THAT’S MAYBE YOUNG OR OLD SHOULD NOT NEED TO GO THROUGH THE BLACK MARKET TO ATTEND TO THEIR BASIC NEEDS. CVS, TOO — Reporter: THIS BUYER TALKED. Reporter: YOU REALLY ARE DOING THIS FOR A DOCTOR? YEAH. Reporter: WE FOUND NO PROOF OF HER CLAIM. BUT SOURCES SAY UNSCRUPULOUS MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Reporter: I’M AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER FOR CHANNEL 2 IN CHICAGO. Reporter: HE TOLD US ON THE PHONE HE SOLD HIS STRIPS TO A PHARMACY, COMMON PRACTICE. BUT IN PERSON — Reporter: I JUST WANT TO TALK TO YOU! Reporter: — HE DIDN’T WANT TO TALK. Reporter: WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO TALK TO ME ABOUT IT? Reporter: THE FDA TOLD US THEY WARN BUYERS, THOSE IN DIABETES WITH STRIPS NEEDED, IT CAN BE DANGEROUS TO BUY OFF THE BLACK MARKET. A LOT OF WARNINGS OUT THERE AND A LOT OF ANGLES. AND REALLY A NOT OFTEN TALKED ABOUT TOPIC. YEAH. WHY IS IT SO OVERLOOKED? PARTICULARLY MEDICAL SUPPLIES AS EXPOSED TO OTHER BLACK MARKET ITEMS? I THINK THOSE IN THE FIELD OF DIABETES SAY IT NEEDS TO BE A FOCUS. THOSE WHO NEED STRIPS SHOULD GET THEM. AND THERE SHOULDN’T BE THIS EXCESS THAT CREATES A BLACK MARKET. BUT I THINK IF YOU’RE TALKING ON A BIGGER LEVEL, WHY DON’T WE HEAR ABOUT CRIMINAL CHARGES OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT? BECAUSE WE’RE TALKING OPIOIDS, BIGGER PROBLEMS, DEADLIER PROBLEMS.