As a person with diabetes we rely on technology to keep us alive. Not just the tech that makes our medicine, but the tech that we rely on to decide how much insulin to dose. At a recent public meeting the FDA acknowledged that there were some FDA cleared blood glucose meters and strips that do not meet the accuracy standards for which they were approved.
This blew my mind. And it reminded me of a video that I made a few years ago (in my bathroom) where I test my glucose with different meters and get pretty dramatically different results:
And the fact that the reading on my left hand didn’t match my right says more about my meter and strips than my body’s asymetry. We rely on the accuracy of test strips to say alive. That’s why I’m joining the Strip Safely campaign and contacting the FDA and my representatives in Congress to tell them that:
The accuracy of test strips is a public health issue.
Quality assurance should be done on strips sold through normal distribution channels.
We need better accuracy standards than the ones created in 2003.
What are you waiting for? The Strip Safely website has sample letters that you can use to contact your legislators too.
Early this week LifeScan announced that they were voluntarily recalling about 2 million of their brand new (and quite sexy) OneTouch Verio blood glucose meters because they were malfunctioning at very high blood glucose levels. Details about the recall can be found on the Johnson & Johnson website (that parent company of LifeScan).
The abbreviated reason OneTouch is replacing these meters (about 90,000 of which are in the United States) is that at 1024 mg/dl and higher the meters shut off. If you have a Verio IQ or you think you might be affected by this recall, go to the website mentioned above to read the details…don’t listen to me.
In most “regular” situations, this bug in the meter is not going to really affect anyone. If someone’s glucose is rising, it’s likely that they’ll test in the 500s, the 600s, the 700s, or the 800s, etc. The likeliehood of someone experiencing a BGL of 1024 mg/dl and not already seeking medical help is slim. But possible.
In the past five years, I can count on my blood-speckled finger-tips the number of times that my glucose level has hit over a 400. So I’m at little to no risk of my Verio IQ meter turning off when I test. I would be significantly more concerned if this meter malfunctioned in my low glucose range.
And I’m at even less of a risk because, while I do own a Verio, I rarely use it anymore because my insurance company does not yet cover the cost of the strips. But even though this recall does not directly affect me, it is a reminder of something very real. As a person with diabetes, my life depends on products that can fail. My insulin, my strips, my meter, my glucagon, my glucose tabs, my ketone strips. All of these things have the potential to not work the way that they are supposed to.
The advancement of diabetes technology in the short time since my diagnosis has been incredible. Every time I hear about the closed-loop system or the artificial pancreas, I get excited. But moments like this one are a harsh slap back to reality. They remind me that I don’t want to put all of my pancreatic beta cells in one basket.