Demand for ARV Drugs Boost Black Market, Study Finds

By Adam, July 12th, 2015 in

The growing demand for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is resulting in an emerging black market, according to a study presented at the Conference of the Association for the Social Sciences and Humanities in HIV last week.

Marginalized individuals that are HIV-positive may be more likely to sell some of their prescribed medication to drug dealers and pill brokers, said presenter Stephen Kurtz of the Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health Disparities.

In addition to legal repercussions, he warns that this also poses health concerns.  “In the real world, pre-exposure prophylaxis relies on adherence, which in my opinion cannot be accomplished. People who already have the virus are often non-compliant. What you’re going to wind up with is more infections and more resistance,” he said in a recent Medscape article.

One of the riskier client base is individuals who are not documented and thus not able to directly receive medications, adds Michael Weinstein, the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The L.A-based non-profit estimates about nearly 25 million people are unaware they’re infected, of which the number that are undocumented remain unknown.

Kurtz’ research focused on south Florida as he sampled 147 HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) who regularly used drugs, and found that the prime motive in selling illegaly was financial gain. Within that sample, individuals who’d sold antiretroviral drugs likely had an income lower than $1000 per month and didn’t adhere to their own HIV treatment.

While ARVs were more likely to be sold to drug dealers and pill brokers, the study reported that people who didn’t actively sell their drugs would still be approached by dealers.


By Palak Mangat