Making money on medical supplies seems to be a growing trend. More and more signs are popping up across Kern County offering cash for diabetes testing strips. But, is it legal to buy and sell them? More importantly, is it safe?
There's no question, these strips are expensive, running anywhere from just under a dollar to $2 per strip. So, if you can get them for half that or sell what you aren't using for cash, people are jumping.
But, local pharmacists say be warned.
Driving on North Chester, there's a sign. Surfing through the internet, there are ads. All of them offer cash to buy unused diabetic test strips. Patrick Leroy is a pharmacist at Komoto Medical Pharmacy.
"I would not recommend it," said Leroy.
Leroy says since test strips can be bought over the counter, the private exchange is legal. But, diabetics need a prescription to get their supplies paid for. Selling their supplies would get them money they didn't spend.
"But, it's going to cost the government money. It's going to cost the payer the insurance. It's going to cost somebody money and those are expensive to that payer source," explained Leroy.
17 News tried calling the local number listed on the street sign. The woman who answered said she was in a meeting. We tried calling again and left a message, but didn't hear back.
We then tried calling the ad we found on Bakersfield's Craigslist. The woman who placed it is Susan Livingstone.
"They are intended to give people, who have lost their insurance or low-income, give them an opportunity to purchase their test strips at a discount," explained Livingstone.
Livingstone, who has no connection with the medical field, buys and sells from her home in the Silicon Valley, doing business now with people in 34 states.
"Most of the people that sell their test strips, it's just a one-time thing because someone passed away in their family or often, probably, is that their doctor changed them to a different brand of test strip.
Livingstone says she only purchases strips that have at least six months before expiring, are unopened, and in good condition.
But, Leroy still considers it too risky and suggests going to someone reputable when health is at stake.
"You know if it's stored in a warehouse, it's 110-120 degrees, that actual test strip can break down sooner," said Leroy.
Livingstone says she buys the strips for as little as $3 to as much as $26 a box and donates the ones she can't sell to free clinics or shelters.
But, Leroy says testing is all about accuracy, and there's no guarantee on that when buying or selling from or to a third party.