Hypo Busters

You’re feeling shaky, sweating profusely, going down… Who ya gonna call?Ghostbuster

Why, Can-Am Care of course. You just don’t know you’re calling on them. ‘Cause this is the company that makes 80-90% of the drugstore variety glucose tab and gel products on the market, under various regional brand names at all the big-name stores — including Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Longs, CVS, Target, Kmart, and Costco. They’re gearing up for a big hypoglycemia awareness campaign to promote their own brand-name, Dex4 products.

“Hypoglycemia is the number one side effect of insulin… and right now, our only real competition for treating it is candy, cola and juice,” a company marketing exec tells me. Weird to think of lows as a business proposition. But he has point: “None of those options treat your hypoglycemia any faster, plus they pack in additional calories, and fat, and they’re hard to gauge, so you end up over-treating with too many carbs.”

Check that!

They’re especially proud of their new glucose tab flavors, including grape-raspberry, watermelon, sour apple, and cremé. Eccchhh… I usually prefer nice juicy raisins to pasty sweet tabs these days. But over-treating is an ongoing issue, ’cause I do love raisins.

Liquied_shot_berry_2The Dex4 folks have an answer to that, too. It’s another one of these, duh-why-hasn’t-anyone-done that-before? moves: they’ve created glucose gel, and also a new concentrated drink, that actually have indicator markings on the side of the package so you can see exactly how many grams of carb you’ve ingested.

They’ve also created little 15-gram drinks they were originally calling “Glucose Shots,” but killed that name for obvious reasons. The new name, “Glucose Liquid Blast,” definitely makes hypoglycemia sound more fun. Or at least makes the treatment sound more turbo-charged :)

I tasted lemon-lime and berry flavor at the AADE expo recently. You could make nice cocktails with this sweet stuff! Not that I remember what those taste like…

The company’s big on reminding us that “the fastest way to combat hypoglycemia and get your blood sugar where it should be is to take d-glucose (i.e. dextrose), the exact kind of glucose in Dex4 products. They contain exact amounts of d-glucose to rapidly get your blood sugar level to where it needs to be.”Glucoserapid_3

Meanwhile, if you’re not dropping quite so dramatically, but need just a little pick-me-up, say on a long walk, try Glucose RapidSpray from Generex. This one’s also composed mainly of dextrose, with a little all-natural orange or raspberry flavoring and binding agents thrown in. Five squirts or more should do you. And hey, this sugar spray’s not just for us PWDs, you know. The company notes that “athletes use it for energy, students for concentration, and some people even use it as a fat-free snack.” Really?

btw, note that Generex is also the company developing Oral-lyn™ oral insulin spray, which they tell me is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials, meaning headed to market within 2-3 years if all goes well. Hmm, fresh breath and basal dosing, too? And this means that soon, we can spray our blood sugar UP or DOWN, as needed? Wow.

Meanwhile, for the next few years, at least we know who to call if we’re feeling weird, and it don’t look good…


14 Responses

  1. Kendra
    Kendra August 13, 2007 at 6:51 am | | Reply

    Okay, the spray is a little whack…but call me a diabetes newbie, I dun care – I love me some glucose tablets. They seem to work for me much better than hard candies, juices, etc. (I’ll be the first to admit it may be psychosomatic.) Now if only I could stop my husband from filching them…

  2. Kassie
    Kassie August 13, 2007 at 7:38 am | | Reply

    I remember seeing an ad for glucose tabs wayyyy back in the 80′s – it showed a picture of OJ and some tabs, with the headline, “A Treatment or a Treat”.

    I hated that ad, b/c the only time I got a treat was when I was low ;)

  3. Scott
    Scott August 13, 2007 at 7:40 am | | Reply

    Its interesting to note that since 2004 or so, Can-Am Care Corp. has had competition from a niche the company owned almost exclusively.

    But in 2004, a little NJ-based company called Raritan Pharmaceuticals Inc. decided to enter the market. They are responsible for innovation beyond the icky orange, grape and raspberry flavors that had long been standard. Raritan started selling what they called “Tropical Fruit” flavored glucose tablets under Wal Mart’s Reli-On Brand, as well as NYC’s Duane Reade Drug Stores (if you closely look at the tablets, you will notice the ones with the imprint “RP”, which stands for Raritan Pharmaceuticals). Aside from the huge opportunitity by landing Wal-Mart, the company had to prove their product was different from Can-Am’s and would sell.

    So what did Raritan do that the giant Can-Am did not? Two things. First, Raritan did something very different by selling a package with 3 different flavors in the same container, and second, their product tasted much, much better.

    Consumers immediately recognized the difference, and they flew off the shelves. When Tropical Fruit first hit the market, Wal-Mart couldn’t keep them on the shelves, and they are still harder to find than the plain old orange or grape flavors. That satisfied Wal-Mart, and the rest, they say, is history. But the story did not end there.

    As a result of this competition, Can-Am has since come back with its own multi-flavored variety sold under the name “Assorted Fruit” flavors. Can-Am’s versions didn’t taste quite as good as Raritan’s did, and the startup managed to land the Wal-Mart account and now sells (in addition to Tropical Fruit), English Toffee (not my choice, but far better than Can-Am’s Sour Apple flavor).

    Isn’t it amazing what a little competition does to an otherwise stale market?!

  4. Gayle
    Gayle August 13, 2007 at 9:16 am | | Reply

    I use glucose tabs to raise my blood sugar and something has always bugged me about them. Why are only 4g of carb per tab when the standard recommendation for treating a hypo is 15g? Is it because sugar molecules are large? I like the taste of the tabs, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to just to eat one?

  5. Rob
    Rob August 13, 2007 at 9:35 am | | Reply

    “Why are only 4g of carb per tab when the standard recommendation for treating a hypo is 15g? Is it because sugar molecules are large?”

    I think it’s for packaging/ consumption reasons. A 15g glucose tab would be pretty bulky and difficult to consume. The current size is pretty easy to eat, even when you can’t produce any saliva due to the low.

    I really liked the glucose gel but found it was too expensive to be practical. It’s also really messy to deal with after the fact since it (and the residue) stick to just about everything.

  6. WC
    WC August 13, 2007 at 1:20 pm | | Reply

    I happen to prefer “plain old grape” to all the other fruity flavors.

  7. Bernard Farrell
    Bernard Farrell August 13, 2007 at 3:59 pm | | Reply


    I like the idea of spraying our levels up or down. Maybe there’s be a big dial with an arrow and we can set it to decide which way we want to go. :-)

    I just hope whatever they make is a little less bong-like than the current gizmo on the market.

  8. Lili
    Lili August 13, 2007 at 5:56 pm | | Reply

    Gayle, I usually only need one or two glucose tabs to treat a low. If I had 15g of carbs, it would raise my bg 75 points…often that’s too high.

  9. Lauren
    Lauren August 13, 2007 at 11:40 pm | | Reply

    Ah, the love/hate relationship most of us have with our hypoglycemia remedies. I could tolerate tabs for the first few months, but after they got pulverized to powdery bits in my purse, disintegrated in the washing machine, and began to make me go cross-eyed from the sickening sweetness, I switched to juice boxes. I find it much easier to drink than eat when I’m low. The spray actually sounds great — minimal effort required. I suppose this can’t be helped, but I really hate having to get up and brush my teeth after treating a middle of the night low. I can’t imagine what would happen to my teeth if I allowed them to bathe in sticky glucose residue for 5 hours.

  10. Sue
    Sue August 14, 2007 at 2:03 pm | | Reply

    Glucose gel has been available in the UK for years. It was called hypostop it’s now called glucogel.
    Glucose tablets have been available for yrs too with many diferent flavours including lucazade sp!

  11. Sam
    Sam August 15, 2007 at 3:14 am | | Reply

    Yeah, that Hypostop (sorry, Glucogel !) tastes HORRIBLE though ! Disgusting chemical taste – just what you want when you’re low… The stuff you Americans have got sounds great – sour apple, grape, tropical fruit, orange – blimey ! All we get are the Lucozade tablets like Sue mentions which are ok, I guess, Dextrosol tablets which come in a few flavours but which go to powder if left in the bottom of your bag, or the already-mentioned Glucogel. Think yourselves lucky !

  12. Bennet
    Bennet August 15, 2007 at 6:25 pm | | Reply

    The sour apple are the first tabs our two T1 kids have liked.

  13. Jim
    Jim August 18, 2007 at 6:50 pm | | Reply

    Cost of these products is always a concern for me. I keep a stash of BD glucose tabs and a 99 cent bag of “circus peanuts” in my man-purse! At 7.8 grams of pure dextrose each – in an easy to chew form – I love them!

  14. Gerd
    Gerd August 20, 2007 at 9:36 am | | Reply

    I use Dextro Energen “the fastest carbohydrate” (Dextrose). Comes in different shapes, (cubes, minis..), good flavors and it is really super fast acting. Available primarily in Europe & Canada, unfortunately it seems not available in US. http://www.dextro-energy.de/

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