Glucose Meter Mania

A few days ago The Diabetes Blog posted a bit about “what features do you shop for in a meter?” And I was all set to reply today with a ranty post about “who actually shops for these things?” I mean, don’t most of us get the free or discounted models that our doctors provide at diagnosis, and then just get attached to them? I don’t know anyone who actually went out meter shopping. But maybe I’m just sheltered.

Anyway, here I was all ready to rave about my favorite meter, the handy little FreeStyle Flash fromFreestyle_2 Abbott Laboratories. But then I check today’s headlines only to discover that my little buddy is getting some very bad press.

Abbott announced recently that its FreeStyle, Precision, and MediSense meters can display misleading readings IF the unit measurement is changed from the American standard of milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) to the European millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Naturally, false meter readings can lead to some very bad diabetes mistakes. So naturally, this makes for great sensational headlines: looks like this story has blanketed the country via CBS, NBC, AOL, and a long list of local newspapers and health web sites.

May I just say: DUH.

Clearly: the meters are not defective, and the readings are not wrong.

And who wouldn’t notice that something is weird if they suddenly got a BG reading of 7?

That is, an American reading of 126 mg/dL is equivalent to 7.00 mmol/L.

Personally, I think it was very responsible of Abbott to respond to customer inquiries by issuing a warning. Based on the coverage, they may regret it. (Actually, the fact that their meters offer both standards should be considered a plus)

So, now I can get on with my rave about why the FreeStyle Flash changed my life:

  1. It is very, very small. So I can be a girl with a pretty purse again.
  2. It requires the smallest amount of blood of any monitor currently on the market (which should have been first on the list, I suppose).
  3. It not only has a nice backlight, but also a light out the front so
    you can see what you’re doing in a dark movie theater or car.
  4. The lancing device is also very compact, and truly is less painful than others (i.e. “virtually pain-free” like they say in the commercial. Really!)

Sometimes the marketing folks are less full of it than you think :)


18 Responses

  1. KWeaver
    KWeaver October 28, 2005 at 4:03 pm | | Reply

    I use the Flash for the same reasons.

    However, I like the Multiclix lancing device from Accu-Chek better — I snagged it for free from my CDE, since it was in an Activa meter box.

    FYI: I might switch to the Activa meter if they ever get it to download, that’s the other thing I like about the Flash.

    I know I won’t record blood sugar readings.

  2. Kassie
    Kassie October 28, 2005 at 4:26 pm | | Reply

    Obviously, I recommend the Ascensia Contour. My favorite things about it are the no-coding feature (believe it or not I used to forget to change the darn code when I started a new bottle of strips). In fact, I like to refer to myself as the poster girl for no-coding. I also love the microfill strips – they suck the blood right in (how very vampirish of me this late in October). I used to waste strips b/c I didn’t aim well enough at the drop of blood.

    Re buying meters, lots of people do. Not everyone gets top notch endocrinology care, and most people with type 2 don’t walk out of the doc’s office with one.

  3. Martha O'Connor
    Martha O'Connor October 29, 2005 at 8:14 pm | | Reply

    We love the Flash! And I agree, the warning and all the ensuing hooplah is just… silly!

    Ours stopped beeping for some odd reason though. It still lights up though… to us, that is the important feature!

  4. Martha O'Connor
    Martha O'Connor October 29, 2005 at 8:14 pm | | Reply

    We love the Flash! And I agree, the warning and all the ensuing hooplah is just… silly!

    Ours stopped beeping for some odd reason though. It still lights up though… to us, that is the important feature!

  5. Martha O'Connor
    Martha O'Connor October 29, 2005 at 8:14 pm | | Reply

    We love the Flash! And I agree, the warning and all the ensuing hooplah is just… silly!

    Ours stopped beeping for some odd reason though. It still lights up though… to us, that is the important feature!

  6. Jo
    Jo October 30, 2005 at 6:49 am | | Reply

    I shopped for meters. I didn’t get the free/discounted one on diagnoses .. I had to buy mine and it was defective. 100 points off from the one at the doctor’s office and the second one I bought at WalMart. I then went shopping and too went to the Freestyle Flash. I won’t go back to another meter. The first one went in the trash and the one from Walmart is my back up at work.

  7. Johnboy
    Johnboy October 30, 2005 at 3:03 pm | | Reply

    I couldn’t agree more with your comments regarding the Freestyle Flash meter. It’s small enough to fit in my pocket, so I know I will carry it with me wherever I go. (I haven’t graduated to the fashionable purse!)

  8. Jaynet
    Jaynet October 31, 2005 at 3:10 pm | | Reply

    I’m all about shopping for a meter. I too love the freestyle. When I picked it up, my pharmacist commented that she’d never seen someone so excited about a meter. I’m diabetic, I like cute things, and I’m a consumer. Anything that makes my life easier and even more fun (thanks to no more fingersticks) is something to get excited about. I can’t wait for our pump manufacturers to come out with something equally exciting. Might I mention i-pod pumping?

  9. Laura
    Laura November 1, 2005 at 5:57 am | | Reply

    I, too, really like the Freestyle Flash with the lightup background and the the strip inlet lights up too. However, my insurance company only covers strips for the One Touch Meter Family and I use the One Touch Ultra Smart which is still very good. It has a lightup background however, no light on the strip inlet. It keeps graphs of your readings and alot of other things I don’t even use. I have never paid for a glucose monitor as the stores always have rebates and specials which always make the monitor free of charge.

  10. gina
    gina November 2, 2005 at 10:38 am | | Reply

    Amy we are actually doing reviews on meters on my website now and fot meter software… if anyone would like to do a review on either please email me !

  11. Will
    Will November 7, 2005 at 9:44 pm | | Reply

    I’m type 2, and my doctor hasn’t yet suggested that I begin testing. However, I decided on my own that I should start testing, at least from time to time.

    It pays to shop for meters. The first one I bought was a cheap model sold by Walgreens that was recommended because of less expensive test strips. It was a disaster. I often got results that seemed very high, and frequently had to re-lance myself to get a test. I tossed it out one morning after getting two results that differed by nearly forty points in the space of five minutes.

    I then bought the Freestyle Flash. I have yet to re-lance, and my readings look more consistent, and in the range that I would expect. I agree that the lance is less painful.

  12. John
    John December 11, 2005 at 4:19 pm | | Reply

    I have tested the walgreens truetrack system with three other meters BD,Flash and older Freestyle. I always get a reading with the TrueTrack system on average of 25 points over any other menter. I sent mine back to the company for a refund. Just because the strips are cheeper dosen’t make the meter better

  13. Jean Harrell
    Jean Harrell April 2, 2007 at 9:46 am | | Reply

    I too, like the Freestyle meters. However, the 2 I bought are clearly defective. I bought them and they lasted a couple of months and started giving defective readings.

    These meters are not very durable. I like the fact that they use very little blood.

    I bought these meters for a Type 2 diabetic loved one and I saw the Freestyle Freedom meter give one reading of 207 and then less than 10 seconds later give a reading of 87. The Freestyle Flash meter was also giving similar defective readings. I am still looking for an accurate meter that uses very little blood. Any ideas?

    I like the Accu-check lancet device, as the Freestyle lancet device does not pierce deep enough to get a drop of blood like the Accu-chek lancet device does.

  14. MContrary
    MContrary April 2, 2007 at 8:26 pm | | Reply

    The FreeStyle Flash has a dial to adjust the depth of the lancet. ’1′ is the lowest setting. Perhaps if you should try ’2′

  15. anotherType1
    anotherType1 May 11, 2007 at 10:47 am | | Reply

    I have been a Diabetic for over 20 years, so I have had tons of experience with multiple meters. I was recently given an Accu-Chek Aviva meter from my CDE because I was interested in the Multiclix and the Multiclix comes packaged witht the Aviva. I loved the Multiclix. It is so nice to have 6 lancets with you, and it was so painless I was surprised to look down and see that there was enough blood for a sample. I thought if the lancet device is so great, I might as well try out the Aviva meter. Well, I was very impressed. It is the easiest meter I have ever used. The strip sucks up the blood so quickly and effortlessly. I have also never gotten and error code with this meter, which was a common problem with my Ultra and Flash. No more resticking and wasting of strips!!! I am gonna stick with the Aviva.

  16. Marisol Flores
    Marisol Flores January 25, 2008 at 8:40 pm | | Reply

    I think that the AccuChek Aviva meter is very easy to use and the best part is that they have these really cute stickers that go on the face of your meter that you get to switch out! It’s makes testing a bit fun, if you can imagine that.. And, Yes the Multiclix is so easy to use-no loose needles.

  17. Dave
    Dave March 13, 2008 at 8:41 pm | | Reply

    This meter works good for a while, but I am on my, believe it or not, 4th one. It simply stops working properly after 6-8 months. Every one I’ve had has been some different problem. I like the meter, but it doesn’t seem to be very reliable.

  18. Derek
    Derek January 23, 2009 at 9:38 am | | Reply

    We created a community site for reviewing meters & insulin pumps, because some meters are good, some are disasters, some are designed to just be fun and easy to use, and we think everyone should be able to know which is which without having to try each one.

    If you’ve had a good or bad experience you can add it to the community at

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