Tag Archives: test strips

An update.

A quick update on my story from Friday, when I lamented those “Cash for Diabetic Test Strips” signs showing up in low income parts of Baltimore:

One of the local news outlets (ABC2) has a relatively new in-depth news show called In Focus, which tries to do more of a deep dive into local stories of interest. Well… last night they did a story on these signs, and interviewed a couple of people, one of which is executive director of the Maryland chapter of the American Diabetes Association, and one who is living with Type 2 and really has something to say on this subject.

They didn’t do as in-depth a story as I would have liked, but it’s very nice to see that someone else is talking about this issue in my town. Here’s the link to the story:


On a related note, Manny Hernandez and I were interviewed by the same organization (separately) for an online story about diabetes. Manny’s part is at the beginning, and it’s very good.

Unfortunately, the reporter did not get the facts right in my case (near the end). I am not participating in an Artificial Pancreas trial in Virginia—yet. That may change in the near future, but when I spoke to the reporter, I didn’t say I was participating in an AP trial. To be honest, I’m kind of embarrassed about it. If I get turned down for the trial (which is possible—I’ve been turned down for two others), I’ll feel like I’m misleading anyone who might read it. So keep that in mind if you decide to read this:


I did find out a little more about the “Cash for Diabetic Test Strips” issue, and I’m working on a still more. Hopefully, I’ll have something meaningful to talk about when it’s all over. Happy Wednesday!

1:10 p.m.– An update to the update: I received a phone call a little over an hour ago to let me know that I met the criteria for a clinical trial that indeed does have an artificial pancreas component. Phew! At least I don’t feel as bad as I did yesterday about it. I’ll tell you more about it next week.

It makes my heart hurt.

I was alerted to this by a co-worker the other day. So when I had a moment over the weekend, I drove into the city, to the corner of North Avenue and Greenmount to check it out myself. Then I drove around a bit.


These signs are up on nearly every street corner in some lower-income parts of Baltimore right now. I couldn’t wrap my head around this idea when I first heard about it, but now that I’ve seen that sign (and many others), something is really bothering me.

So I did some research. I found that companies buying test strips, then reselling them, is nothing new. It’s also legal, if whoever is reselling the strips has FDA approval to do so. In fact, Diabetes Mine did an important story on this almost two years ago (they get quoted about once a week here, and twice on weeks with days ending in Y). Mike Lawson did the investigating and wrote the story, and it gave me chills.

It also had me asking questions. Questions like: What kind of screwed up healthcare system do we have in America, when people who need help have trouble getting it, and people who prey on others with very little cash can operate with impunity? How does all of this work? What kind of profit is there in this?

Well, the money must be good at least. Because there are dozens of sites online that will buy up your test strips. And then resell them. Some are operated by individuals, some by actual companies.

As I mentioned, I’m very distressed by the presence of these signs in my community. I absolutely hate the idea that people with very little will feel the need to take shortcuts on their diabetes management just so they can pay the light bill. It makes my heart hurt.

I feel like there must be a special place in hell for people who exploit this kind of weakness. Rather than helping someone who may really need it, they’re helping themselves to profits on the backs of those who can least afford it, financially or physically.

So I think I’m going to see what I can find out about the organization behind the phone number and the cheesy signs. I can’t really consider myself an “investigative reporter” type. I don’t have any idea what I’ll find out, if anything. But I can’t let go of this yet.

More to come.

I’m looking at you…

I’m looking at you… you person, who has up until now procrastinated and not submitted comments on blood glucose meter and test strip accuracy to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

You have one week left.


For one more week, two draft guidance documents are open for comment from the community at large. One is for equipment used in a clinical setting, like doctor’s offices and hospitals. The other has to do with the meters and strips we all use as consumers (read: patients).

Due to enthusiasm from the Diabetes Community, the FDA has added an extra month to their deadline for people to leave comments on these important documents. But that extra month ends next Wednesday.

Have you commented yet? (Hint: you don’t even have to be a person with diabetes to comment)

Have you spread the word about this important draft guidance?

Is the answer c) None of the above?

Don’t worry. The important information on the draft guidance, and how to leave comments, and even some sample text you can use when commenting, is all available on the Strip Safely site.

Let’s say you’ve left comments already. Well… Have you read the information about third party strips documented so well at Strip Safely and over at Diabetes Mine?

Did you know you could add additional comments expressing your concern over third-party accountability? Guess how long you’ve got to do that? That’s right… one more week.

Don’t miss out on lending your voice to this important issue. It is needed and wanted and appreciated. So please, take this not-so-gentle reminder to heart, and help ensure better accuracy of the glucose meters and test strips that are used multiple times every day. Time is running out. Procrastination is not an option any longer.

Many thanks to Christel Marchand Aprigliano and Bennet Dunlap for leading the charge up the Hill of Guidance.

Diabetes Art Day, #StripSafely edition.

Today is an extra-special-important version of Diabetes Art Day! Thanks to Lee Ann Thill, today is a day for all of us to put our creative minds to use to help spread the word about the importance of meter and test strip accuracy.

The Strip Safely initiative has really taken off, and today’s D-Art Day is another chance for us to shout about the fact that meter and test strip accuracy is not nearly what it should be.

To find out more, visit the Strip Safely site at www.stripsafely.com.

You are encouraged to create your own art using test strips… upload your work of art HERE. You can also go there to view other special pieces of D-Art.

Without further ado, here’s my art, if you can call it that. I’m among the most art-challenged people on the planet, so I did a little photo thing that turned into kind of a public service announcement. Oh well. Here it is… And don’t forget to check out the other great works of art on Diabetes Art Day– Strip Safely edition.


This movement is gaining momentum. Climb aboard the steamroller NOW.

If you’re a Person With Diabetes, you know the importance of seeing accurate readings on your glucose meter. In a public meeting last May, officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration admitted that there are some glucose meters and test strips out in the marketplace that no longer meet the standards that they were approved for in the first place.

What were they approved for in the first place? In testing with the FDA, test strips are required to meet an accuracy of +/- 20%. That means if my meter says 180 mg/dL, it could actually be as high as 216 and still pass the test. Or it could be as low as 144… and still pass the test. That’s a 72 point difference! That’s a window big enough to drive a truck through. And that’s what is required to pass the test and win approval.

To their credit, the FDA is working to lower the threshold and make test strips even more accurate. So what’s the problem?

Well, once the test strips are approved for use in the USA, they aren’t subject to further scrutiny. In other words, there is no program in place to ensure the continued accuracy of test strips once they’re approved. So the test strips I’m using, that met a 20% standard of accuracy when approved, might now have an accuracy of +/- 40%, according to some experts. At that measure of accuracy, my 180 mg/dL reading might actually be 252. Or 108. A difference of 144 mg/dL.

Since dosing insulin is dependent on my blood glucose reading and how many grams of carbohydrates I’m eating, if there are 45 grams of carbs in my meal:

– That 20 percent standard means a dose as low as 3.3 units. Or a dose as high as 5.1 units.

– That 40 percent deviation could mean a dose of 3.0 units. Or a dose of as much as 6.0 units of insulin.

Imagine if my dinner bolus is 6.0 units, but it should have been 3.0 units. Since my target is to get back to 100 mg/dL, and one unit of insulin should drop me about 40 mg/dL, an over-bolus of 3 units means I could drop 120 points lower than expected, resulting in severe hypoglycemia or even death. Are you with me so far? Do you understand how critical test strip accuracy really is? Good.

This is why the Strip Safely (http://www.stripsafely.com) campaign is in full force, helping to spread the word about the importance of test strip accuracy. You can do your part too, by sending a letter, either by snail mail or by e-mail, to your elected officials in Washington. Need a little help getting started?

– A sample letter you can use is available here.

– You can find your elected officials HERE.

Hint: Our elected officials have Twitter and Facebook accounts too. So does the FDA. In fact, they have many Twitter handles, including @US_FDA, @FDADeviceInfo, and @FDAMedWatch. If you decide to send something via Twitter, be sure to include the hashtag #StripSafely.

You might be saying, “Hey Steevo, you wrote about this before… why bring it up again?”. Because it’s that important. Let’s keep the momentum going. Let’s help improve the safety of people living with diabetes, and improve the peace of mind of our loved ones affected by diabetes. It’s that important. And your help is needed and appreciated and keeps the momentum going.

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