The National Retail Federation has updated its “Buyer Beware” list of common household items sold through online auction sites. Certain products, including diabetes supplies, according to the NRF, have a higher than average risk of being stolen or tainted, and, therefore, can pose serious health risks to consumers.
“If consumers do not purchase supplies from a legitimate retailer, there is risk of products being expired, exposed to extreme heat or cold or even being sent from overseas and repackaged,” said Marc Wolf, registered pharmacist and CEO of Diabetic Care Services. “The result can be inaccurate readings that can potentially cause a person to treat a high or low ineffectively. The outcome could be diabetic shock or a coma.”
Unfortunately, hard economic times have forced more people with diabetes to shop and purchase testing supplies from illegitimate retailers. “If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Wolf, who has been helping diabetic patients with testing supplies and medications for more than 20 years. “In fact, consumers will not achieve a cost savings in the long run if the supplies are tainted and cause the patient to use more supplies to get an accurate reading.”
Purchasing diabetes supplies and medications online or by phone can be a very beneficial option for consumers, offering convenience, competitive pricing and privacy. However, it is important the retailer is a legitimate provider. Wolf provides the following tips on what to look for and what to avoid when purchasing diabetes supplies online or by phone.
1. Beware of ”discount” prices. If the prices seem significantly lower than what you paid in the past, call the product manufacturer and inquire about the quality of the supplies with that particular retailer. You might be shocked to discover the manufacturer did not authorize the seller – whether an online retailer or an auction site – to sell its products, which means the diabetic testing supplies are being purchased from an unidentified third party, making the quality and efficacy of the product extremely suspect.
2. Check the business’ credentials. Just because a web site looks official or a call center sounds professional doesn’t mean it is credible. Look for accreditations like the Healthcare Quality Association on Accreditation (HQAA) that confirms the business is consistently operating with established quality business practices and demonstrates ethical practices. In fact, medical equipment providers are required by the Medicare Modernization Act to be certified by a reputable accreditation organization to serve Medicare patients.
If you are purchasing prescription medications, be sure the business is a licensed pharmacy located in the United States.
3. Check the Better Business Bureau rating and confirm the company is accredited by the BBB.
4. Ask your supplier for customer referrals. Most legitimate companies would be happy to share recent client testimonials with you or even allow you to call a few of their patients as a reference.
5. Check with peers. There are many active diabetic blogs and communities online where you can post a question asking if anyone has had experience with a specific supplier.
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