Secondhand diabetic test strips a dangerous market in the Bronx

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Medical professionals say some people in the Bronx who are buying secondhand diabetic test strips may be getting the wrong information about their condition.

Diabetes is a disease affecting people with high blood sugar. Diabetics have trouble producing insulin, which helps get sugar into cells, creating energy. There are two types of diabetes. Those who suffer from Type 1 diabetes are likely born with the disease. Type 2 diabetes, the most common, develops over time.

Many diabetics use test strips to monitor their condition – a quick prick of blood on a strip, which is then placed in a machine for a blood sugar reading. They're expensive, which has created a market of buyers and sellers for the test strips.  

News 12 met with Dr. Preeti Kishore at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi who says those buying off-market strips risk being misinformed.

"If they take too much insulin based on what their blood sugar is, and it's incorrect, it can be life-threatening for them,” says the doctor.

She says the strips might not even work anymore due to enzyme degradation, which results in inaccurate values. False readings can lead to strokes and amputations.

News 12 called a number found in a neighborhood in the Bronx looking to buy test strips. The person on the other end of the line said they were willing to meet and pay cash.

The American Diabetes Association says "patients should be advised against purchasing or reselling preowned or second-hand test strips, as these may give incorrect results. Only unopened vials of glucose test strips should be used to ensure SMBG (self-monitoring of blood glucose) accuracy."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told News 12 that there is no federal oversight or regulation of strips, no regulations on storage, no regulations on transportation and no checks on quality control. They say diabetics should buy test strips directly from a pharmacy.

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