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Unauthorized CPAP Sales Get Attention from JAMA

November 4, 2016

The problem of unauthorized CPAP sales has been something of an open secret in the sleep medicine community. The issue recently reached the virtual pages of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) online, where JAMA editors published the results of a study that examined the problem.

Click here fore article JAMA Internal Medicine

“Although it is technically illegal to issue a CPAP machine without a prescription, we are not aware of any lawsuits filed against an individual selling their secondhand CPAP device,” said study coauthor Dr. Ken M. Kunisaki of Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Minnesota. “We did not speak directly to any sellers, but we suspect most are unaware of the legal requirement for a prescription.”

Reuters news service picked up the article, with reporter Kathryn Doyle pointing out that there is a “large market for unauthorized online sales” of secondhand CPAP devices, which treat obstructive sleep apnea. “Purchased from an authorized vendor through a sleep clinic, a CPAP machine can cost $600 to $2,000 for patients with little or no insurance coverage, the authors write,” wrote Doyle.

Click here for Reuters report

“We did not speak directly with sellers or buyers, so we can only speculate on why this market exists, but we suspect that sellers have CPAP machines they no longer use or no longer need, while buyers are unable or unwilling to pay for CPAP through usual methods,” said Kunisaki.

According to Joshua Fogel, professor in the department of business management at the Murray Koppelman School of Business at Brooklyn College, reputable companies only sell CPAP machines to patients with a prescription. For specialized machines, this can cost as much as $3,500, Fogel told Reuters Health. “Secondhand sellers may be selling their machine because it is defective,” said Fogel, who was not part of the new research.

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