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U.S. diabetes patients turn to 'black market' for medications, supplies – Montreal Gazette

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Diabetes medications and blood-test supplies are sold, traded and donated on black markets because the U.S. health-care system isn’t meeting patients’ needs, a study shows. The price of insulin continues to increase, translating to $15 per day for the average user. Recent research indicates one in four people with diabetes ration their insulin because of the cost.


David Burns, 38, who has type 1 diabetes, prepares his insulin pen to inject himself in his home in North London on February 24, 2019. – Diabetics and insulin providers in Britain are stockpiling their precious medicine to avoid potential shortages in case Britain leaves the European Union without a deal in just over month’s time. Britain’s 3.7 million diabetics, which include Prime Minister Theresa May, depend almost entirely on insulin imports from continental Europe.


NIKLAS HALLE’N / AFP/Getty Images

(Reuters Health) – Diabetes medications and blood-test supplies are sold, traded and donated on black markets because the U.S. healthcare system isn’t meeting patients’ needs, a study shows.

In a survey, about half of people who participated in these underground exchanges said they do it because they lack access to the proper medications and supplies to manage their diabetes, researchers report in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology.

“It is important for healthcare providers and policymakers to understand what people are doing to support diabetes management when faced with medication and supply access issues,” said study leader Michelle Litchman of the University of Utah College of Nursing in Salt Lake City.

The price of insulin continues to increase, translating to $15 per day for the average user, the study authors note. Recent research indicates that one in four people with diabetes ration their insulin due to cost, they add.

“While there are risks to using medications and supplies that are not prescribed to them, there are also risks to rationing or not taking medications or using supplies at all,” Litchman told Reuters Health by email.

In early 2019, the researchers surveyed 159 people who were involved in online diabetes communities, including patients and caregivers. They asked questions about underground exchange activities, access to healthcare and difficulty in purchasing diabetes items from standard sources.

More than half of the survey participants said they had donated medications or supplies, 35% received donations, 24% traded medications, 22% borrowed items and 15% purchased items. These exchanges took place among family, friends, co-workers, online acquaintances and strangers.

Overall, people who reported financial stress due to diabetes management were six times more likely to engage in underground exchanges and three times more likely to seek donations.

“The current healthcare situation in the United States is substandard for many people with chronic disease,” said Mary Rogers of the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“It is too costly. It is too slow. It is too complicated,” she said by email. “Failure to fix these problems leads to diabetic complications and unnecessary hospitalizations.”

Participants who donated medications felt compelled to give because they knew about the dire need of others, the study authors note. These respondents described a sense of duty and obligation to help. Others built up stockpiles that they donated, including insulin, pills, glucose strips, sensors and pump supplies.

Underground exchange could lead to several repercussions, including unanticipated side effects, complications of incorrect use, delay in seeking professional help and drug interactions, the authors caution. In addition, sharing and trading prescription medicines is illegal in the U.S. and other countries.

In this study, the researchers did not identify any adverse events, Litchman said.

Kebede Beyene of the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, who wasn’t involved in the study, told Reuters Health, “It seems that health professionals rarely ask patients about medicine sharing, trading or exchange, so it would make sense for health professionals to ask about medicines exchange during consultations and when dispensing medicines, particularly for high-risk medicines, such as diabetes medications, antibiotics and strong pain medications.”

“Patients can then be given information about the possible risks of taking someone else’s medicine or giving their prescribed medicines to another person,” Beyene said by email. “Community pharmacy practitioners are also in a unique position to educate about risks of medicine exchange.”

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2MtPQa6 Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, online December 4, 2019.

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Mass COVID-19 vaccinations to begin in Montreal as province ramps up effort – WellandTribune.ca

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MONTREAL – Quebec’s mass vaccination campaign gets underway in earnest in the Montreal area today as the province begins inoculating members of the general public.

The province announced last week that it was booking appointments for seniors age 85 and up across the province, or 80 and above in Montreal.

Quebec began accepting appointments last Thursday, with nearly 100,000 booked on Day One of the campaign.

Some regions started vaccinating members of the general population late last week, but the campaign is expected to speed up considerably with the opening of mass vaccine clinics in the Montreal area, including one at the Olympic Stadium.

Outlying regions are mainly expected to ramp up after the March break holiday, which gets underway today.

Quebec has so far concentrated its vaccination effort on health care workers, people living in remote regions and seniors in closed environments such as long-term care and private seniors residences.

The province has chosen to delay giving second doses in favour of administering a first jab to as many people as possible, but the province’s health minister said last week it will dole out second doses beginning March 15.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Saturday that the start of the mass vaccination campaign was giving him “a lot of hope,” even as he expressed concern about spring break week and the spread of new virus variants.

In a Facebook message, he urged Quebecers to remain vigilant for the coming weeks to allow the province to vaccinate more people, and to wait for immunity to fully develop in those who have received a shot.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021.

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Mass COVID-19 vaccinations to begin in Montreal as province ramps up effort – Sudbury.com

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MONTREAL — Quebec’s mass vaccination campaign gets underway in earnest in the Montreal area today as the province begins inoculating members of the general public.

The province announced last week that it was booking appointments for seniors age 85 and up across the province, or 80 and above in Montreal.

Quebec began accepting appointments last Thursday, with nearly 100,000 booked on Day One of the campaign.

Some regions started vaccinating members of the general population late last week, but the campaign is expected to speed up considerably with the opening of mass vaccine clinics in the Montreal area, including one at the Olympic Stadium.

Outlying regions are mainly expected to ramp up after the March break holiday, which gets underway today.

Quebec has so far concentrated its vaccination effort on health care workers, people living in remote regions and seniors in closed environments such as long-term care and private seniors residences.

The province has chosen to delay giving second doses in favour of administering a first jab to as many people as possible, but the province’s health minister said last week it will dole out second doses beginning March 15.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Saturday that the start of the mass vaccination campaign was giving him “a lot of hope,” even as he expressed concern about spring break week and the spread of new virus variants.

In a Facebook message, he urged Quebecers to remain vigilant for the coming weeks to allow the province to vaccinate more people, and to wait for immunity to fully develop in those who have received a shot. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021.

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From lockdowns to spring break, provinces split on next steps in COVID-19 fight – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Canada’s COVID-19 hotspots showed diverging approaches to handling the crisis on Sunday, as Ontario and Prince Edward Island prepared for new lockdowns while Quebec entered a week of spring break complete with some activities meant to ease the monotony of life during a global pandemic.

Prince Edward Island announced it was entering a 72-hour lockdown starting at midnight as the province struggled to contain an outbreak of COVID-19.

The short-term public health order was announced as officials reported five new infections of the disease in a province that has seen few cases for most of the pandemic. The Island has now recorded 17 new infections over the past five days.

Health officials identified two clusters of COVID-19 in the cities of Summerside and Charlottetown, and said it’s possible the island has community spread of the virus. The province has a total of just 132 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The three-day lockdown requires residents to stay home as much as possible and will close all kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, with post-secondary education moving online only.

“We would rather go harder and stronger now than wait for an outbreak like we have seen in other provinces that could put us in an extended period of lockdown for weeks or even months,” Premier Dennis King said late Sunday during a briefing with reporters.

Ontario, meanwhile, passed the 300,000 case mark on Sunday as the government prepared to hit a so-called ’emergency brake’ in two northern public health units grappling with surging case numbers.

The Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka District health units will enter the lockdown phase of the province’s pandemic response plan on Monday in order interrupt transmission of COVID-19 at a time when new variants are gaining steam.

The province has also pushed back its spring break until April in an effort to limit community spread.

Quebec, in contrast, has allowed movie theatres, pools and arenas to open with restrictions in place to give families something to do as the traditional winter break kicks off, even as most other health rules remain in place.

The province opted to allow students and teachers the traditional March break, even though Premier Francois Legault has said he’s worried about the week off and the threat posed by more contagious virus variants.

Quebec’s health minister said the situation in the province was stable on Sunday, with 737 new cases and nine additional deaths – even as confirmed cases linked to variants of concern jumped by more than 100 to 137.

Most of the variant cases have been identified as the B.1.1.7 mutation first identified in the United Kingdom, including 84 in Montreal.

Ontario, meanwhile, reported 1,062 new infections linked to the pandemic on Sunday as it became the first province to record more than 300,000 total cses of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.

The country’s chief public health officer urged Canadians on Sunday to continue following public health measures as a way of buying critical time as vaccine programs ramp up.

“Aiming to have the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance possible is a simple rule that we can all apply to help limit the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement.

Canada’s immunization program received a boost last week with the approval of a third COVID-19 vaccine, raising hopes that provinces will be able to inoculate their most vulnerable populations before the more contagious variants can fully take hold.

Toronto announced Sunday that it was expanding the first phase of its COVID-19 vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness, noting that they have a higher risk of serious health impacts due to COVID-19 and are vulnerable to transmission in congregate settings.

Quebec, meanwhile, is set to begin vaccination of the general population on Monday, beginning with seniors 80 and over in the Montreal area, or 85 and over in the rest of the province.

While some regions with extra doses began administering shots late last week, the pace of inoculation will ramp up on Monday when mass vaccination clinics in Montreal throw open their doors.

Case counts were more stable elsewhere in the country.

Manitoba reported just 50 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday and two new virus-related deaths, while Saskatchewan saw its overall tally climb by 181 but did not log any new deaths.

Alberta reported three new virus-related deaths and 301 new infections, including 29 identified as variants of concern.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia logged three new cases while officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported seven.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021

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