Terra Sigillata

Please alert your diabetic friends, family, colleagues, and students as to this alert from the US FDA:

LifeScan and FDA notified healthcare professionals and the public of counterfeit blood glucose test strips being sold in the United States for use with various models of the One Touch Brand Blood Glucose Monitors used by people with diabetes to measure their blood glucose. The counterfeit test strips potentially could give incorrect blood glucose values–either too high or too low–which might result in a patient taking either too much or too little insulin and lead to serious injury or death.

FDA also provides a full press release and links to other safety issues through their MedWatch program.

Not sure how much coverage this got in the MSM this weekend but this episode brings to mind two points. First, there are slime-sucking weasels out there who will do anything for a buck, such as wholesaling counterfeit blood glucose strips or diluting chemotherapy doses, regardless of the potential danger to others, many of whom might even be in their own families.

Second, this episode illustrates one of the good things about the US Food and Drug Administration – yes, as comprehensively cited by the Institute of Medicine’s, “The Future of Drug Safety,” they are an organization that is woefully understaffed, thereby often missing important safety issues, and can satisfy neither the public nor drug and medical device manufacturers.

However, the activities of some devoted professionals within the agency will likely avert dozens, if not hundreds, of deaths due to this alert.


  1. #1 natural cynic
    October 20, 2006

    Some of the things that have bothered me about test strips are the cost and the incompatibility. The [seemingly] high cost – generally 60-90 cents per strip retail makes them a possible target of counterfeiters. And the life span of one type of strip is relatively short, new meters with new strips are constantly coming out. It seems like overkill. With insurance/medicare picking up the major costs to the consumer, there is little incentive for more economical strips, so short-term profit margins pare probably high. This is especially evident when you consider that if you look around a little, you can always poick up a meter fro free – the cost will be easily made up by the time you get a three month supply of strips that work only on a specific machine. I have seen some cheaper “generic” strips under a specific phamacy’s name that usually work only on one specific type, usually a slower older model without the capabilities of the newer units.

    Just wondering why the industry hasn’s settled on a very few types instead of competing to try to get something newer and slightly faster with better memory capabilities, but maybe not better.

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