The Black Market for AIDS Drugs

One of my big headaches at the moment is a patient — call him Ralph…[who] appears to be one of the most successful smalltime alchemists in all of New York. He fills prescriptions every month like clockwork and then sells the unopened bottles for hundreds of dollars each on a street corner somewhere.

Those sealed bottles of lifesaving AIDS medication that net thousands of dollars…go out of the country, to eager markets in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the developing world.  There the seals will be broken and the pills will be taken by desperate men and women who want to live.  A reporter for Mother Jones painstakingly traced this modern trade route a few years ago, from the patients selling their pills along Ninth Avenue to a doctor in the Dominican Republic slipping patients a contact number to buy the drugs.

Full story on the black market for AIDS drugs.

Comments (5)

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  1. Joe S. says:

    Markets work.

  2. Tom H. says:

    Joe makes a good point. This black market may not be all that bad.

  3. Bruce says:

    Well, if the black market is a good thing, why does the doctor view his patient a “big headache”?

  4. Greg says:

    I thought the pharmaceutical companies sold AIDS drugs for rock bottom prices in the LDCs as a matter of course. If so, why is there any need for a black market?

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    I always assumed some of the low-cost AIDs drugs donated to developing countries clandestinely made their way back to rich countries, when under-paid public health workers found an opportunity for arbitrage. This article suggests some of the drugs from the U.S. Medicaid program are finding a market in developing countries.