Blood Glucose Testing strips… A rip-off of monumental proportions?

Blood Glucose Testing strips… A rip-off of monumental proportions?
Blood Glucose Testing strips… A rip-off of monumental proportions?

All type 1 diabetics know that blood testing strips are an essential part of living with injecting insulin. Many type 2s also see them as essential to understanding how food affects their levels. And yet, these tiny pieces of plastic, metal and chemicals vary dramatically in cost, with the cheapest costing £6.99 per 50 and the most expensive around £16 – full details can be found of the costs to the NHS on this website.

But what interested me was the similarity, at least in looks, of three particular test strips, and a bit of knowledge about the source of the manufacture.

On the list, you will find the SD Codefree, that many T2s purchase for themselves, costing the NHS £6.99 per 50, the Dario strips costing the NHS £14.95 per 50 and the Dana strips, which aren’t even available on prescription.

For those not in the know, the Dana is a pump from Korea that has a remote handset, bolus calculator and other handy tools. It is relatively cheap on its up front cost (some £1,000 less than the majority of others) so presents a good option in terms of initial pricing. There is, however, one small issue. The testing strips are not available on prescription, so in order to get them, you have to have your strips funded by the CCG rather than the normal route. The only place to then get them in the UK is Advanced Therapeutics, who those in pumping and CGM will be well aware of, They also happen to be the sole distributor of the Dario device now, although the test strips are available on prescription.

Why are these three specifically of interest? Well, the Codefree is made in Korea, the Dana R is also made in Korea, and the Dario, whilst being of an Israeli design gets the strip supply from Korea.

Then you look at the strips themselves. Just looking at the pictures, the Codefree strips look like a blue version of the Dario strip, which looks like the Dana strips. Now I don’t have a Dana to test this, but I do have a Dario, so I’ve ordered a box of fifty from the UK provider to see whether they work interchangeably at this level. If they do, then anyone paying £14.95 for the strips for the Dario is being ripped off. Watch this space.

As an aside, Dana have also combined the pump with an Android app, so you can now bolus from your phone. No more getting out the handset. If you are using something other than the bolus calculator on the remote, you could simply tap your phone and bolus. Just like that. An interesting development that is squarely in the middle of the artificial pancreas realm. If the app can do the dose, and an Android app can read the Dexcom G5, open source artificial pancreases have just become a step closer. A fascinating development.

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