The Stinging Cost of Glucose Test Strips

A number of you took the opportunity on the LifeScan “cringer” discussion here to point out how insanely expensive glucose test strips are. Bravo! There is no doubt we get gouged on these things, which cost about a dollar apiece (!) and most of us — at least most Type 1 diabetics — use an average of 10-12 per day. I’m crappy at math, but my Casio calculator tells me that’s about $4,000/year for the strips alone. WtF?

Unhappy_finger_2 It is quite true that most glucose meter companies (literally or practically) give away their meters for free, knowing full well that we patients will become hooked on a steady supply of their proprietary test strips.

According to D-industry consultant David Kliff, the actual cost of manufacturing a test strip is only about 8 to 12 cents. But the R&D, logistics, quality testing and packaging costs jack up the price. Still, the vendors make about a 60-80% profit on each box, or possibly even higher, Kliff says. Yikes!

In my book, it’s a slap in the face to the millions of people suffering from diabetes (and its financial burden) that the industry refuses to together to create a standard universal test strip that can be used in any meter. I’m thinking in terms of the technology industry, which created USB cables, storage disks, and CD-ROMs that consumers can use with devices from any manufacturer. But Kliff reminds me that the tech industry had a financial motive: all the vendors could sell more devices using USB and CDs, whereas pharma vendors reap their rewards from selling the strips themselves, not the testing devices.

The US market for diabetic patient monitoring systems is expected to reach $9.1 Billion by 2010. Current market leader Roche Diagnostics makes a whopping $1Billion gross annual profit from its diabetes division alone, with the majority of that money coming from disposable supplies like test strips.

Ugh! We are literally bleeding out that money…

Why would these vendors care to share their intellectual property, when they’re profiting so nicely from it? They’ve all created “meter families” that utilize one branded test strip (like Accu-Check or FreeStyle), but they’ve successfully managed to get us consumers focused on the glucose meter as the key differentiator. In fact, whether a test requires a smaller blood sample or is faster mainly depends on the technology in the test strip itself, Kliff says.

And with just a small tweak, almost every meter could be set up to do without that annoying coding, Kliff adds, but the vendors are rolling out the “no coding” technology slowly, to create some big buzz among us consumers, … “like new Tide with Bleach.”

Their R&D efforts are focused on chipping away at the price of manufacturing the strips — which are churned out by the billions on printing-press like machines somewhere in Asia. If they can knock off just one cent of their cost per strip, they can save billions. Presumably, there’s no intention to pass these savings on to patients.

Meanwhile, those of us who can’t really afford the hundreds of dollars per month for strips are simply going without testing, or cutting corners by snipping the test strips in half, and other tricks that make for dubious — and dangerous — testing results. Ugh.Blood_money_2

I haven’t got an answer to this problem. But I intend to start lobbying for more affordable test strips right now. Today. With this post.

Meanwhile, a few sources on purchasing test strips at somewhat-less-painful prices:

* eBay test strip buying tips

* Wal-Mart pharmacy

* Long discussion thread on About.com/diabetes

* More talk and recommendations at Google Groups

* Comparison shopping at Become.com

Other suggestions?

Come on, Diabetes Community, let’s start making some collective noise here.

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93 Responses

  1. Mike
    Mike October 9, 2007 at 6:37 am | | Reply

    This issue has bothered me for a long time since there’s some level of collusion with strip makers. With almost all strips at the $50 level and no clear advantage to any of them, there’s honestly no winner. You take what your insurance company will approve. I have tried the reli-on meter and my sugars seemed higher on there but that was my only issue.

    Here’s an odd story that would shock you. In college, I had a fellow friend who was a type 1 and her friend’s dad actually worked for Lifescan/J&J. She used to get strips for herself and offered to get some for me at what Lifescan would charge the dad. Guess how much?

    $5 for a box of 50. Sadly, he only worked there for a year so that ended eventually. Crazy stuff, eh?

  2. Michelle
    Michelle October 9, 2007 at 6:40 am | | Reply

    Bravo Amy. This is what the real issue is. Well that and no one would mind paying for a test strip that accurately reflected BG. I was testing out the new Freestyle Lite (no coding) and compared it – side by side – with results from a flash. Same blood drop on both (from my 7 year old’s finger) The lite read consistantly higher – 30points higher at one time (154 vs 184)which results in my son getting double the insulin (.2 vs .4 units) to bring that high bg into range. BIG DIFFERENCE . What’s even more troubling is the 54 I got on the flash yesterday vs the 72 on the lite. Glucose tabs vs Lets get your lunch ready right now. Freestyle said both strips measure accurately. Right.

    So it’s two fold – there is no way in hell they should be making so much money off these tiny little scraps of nothing that aren’t even that accurate. But if they make a more accurate strip are they going to start charging MORE? I can hear the “psa” now – “New LifeScan in Purple now with new accurate test results.”

  3. Clinton
    Clinton October 9, 2007 at 6:47 am | | Reply

    Wow, thank you Amy! I knew they were making a profit on us, but I never imagined such an outrageous amount!

    You are correct, meters are pretty much worthless. Companies give them away for free. Just call any company and ask for one! They’ll send you one overnight probably, and a small vial of 5 strips to start you off.

    This is just as bad, if not worse, as the profits that oil companies make. These strips are a lifeline for the millions of us who rely on them. Something must be done, and soon!

  4. Ed
    Ed October 9, 2007 at 6:51 am | | Reply

    What makes it even harder is having to test multiple times when exercising. During a run or ride I’ll undoubtedly screw up 3 or 4 tests – that’s like $5 on the ground – add the additional tests and on days of heavy exercise I’m probably testing 15 times. I don’t feel the cost crunch if my perscription can be refilled but when it can’t – it really hurts the pocket.

  5. Antigonos
    Antigonos October 9, 2007 at 7:02 am | | Reply

    Wow! Here in Israel, our quasi-governmental (subsidized) HMO system (kupat cholim) sells the strips at NIS 20 per 50, or at today’s exchange rate, $5 per box.

  6. Bernard Farrell
    Bernard Farrell October 9, 2007 at 7:07 am | | Reply

    Amy

    I understand the need for these companies to make a profit. But I don’t understand why prices have basically increased since the strips were first introduced. For example the OneTouch test strips are essentially unchanged from when they were first introduced 6+ years(?) ago. I guess I wouldn’t mind continuing to pay this price if I saw the value going up, but it’s essentially unchanged. The analysis software isn’t any better (except for newer vendors such as AgaMatrix) and the strips/meters themselves are substantially the same.

    Good luck in raising awareness on this. Maybe we need a diabetes bloggers visit to DC to really drive the point home to our federal legislators?

  7. Jules
    Jules October 9, 2007 at 7:41 am | | Reply

    Test strips woudn’t be an option if there wasn’t a profit in it. There is competition out there so there must be a reason the costs are so high. The retail costs are high compared to the costs that the insurance companies pay. My insurance company pays half the retail cost. It’s like going to the emergency room without insurance. The problem isn’t greedy companies and profits, it’s access to insurance or big buying groups. The Wal Mart strategy seems to be a short term solution for those without insurance.

  8. mollyjade
    mollyjade October 9, 2007 at 7:48 am | | Reply

    My state has a prescription drug card available to everyone that gives something like a 75% discount. Except it doesn’t cover test strips. I can get 75% off my $5 thyroid medication though. Big help.

  9. Dave
    Dave October 9, 2007 at 8:25 am | | Reply

    I get 200 test strip for my one touch ultra for $10 bucks. I have to thank my insurance company for that.

  10. Scott
    Scott October 9, 2007 at 8:57 am | | Reply

    Actually, this echoes what I noted a while back (see my link for the posting) about the mistakes these companies make in promoting testing supplies to consumers. Virtually all test strips are aimed at consumers who test relatively little, which is a huge mistake. Using some back-of-the envelope calculations, we see that “light test strip users” will use about 240,000,000 test strips this year, while “heavy users” (estimated to be roughly 2 million type 1 and type 2 patients with diabetes who maintain good control) will use roughly 448,000,000 test strips assuming they use an average of 14 strips per day. I know its easier to reach out to millions of people who never test by promising “virtually pain-free” testing, but give me a break. The heavy user market may be tiny by comparison, they are much more profitable, yet we are ignored by the advertisers … what gives?!

    To top things off, the games manufacturers play with new products, as David Kliff suggested, is sad. But I cannot help but wonder why there are no startups who continue to sell the older test strips which offer only marginal changes from the original, think of the J&J One Touch Fast-Take vs. the One Touch Ultra strips … can you notice any material difference … I didn’t think so, yet patients buy into the newer is better marketing ploy hook, line and sinker.

    We cannot blame companies for wanting to make profits, but we should be considering the things we do to encourage this kind of thievery!

  11. rick01
    rick01 October 9, 2007 at 8:59 am | | Reply

    I have worked in the medical design industry for ~12 years including a company that supplied the membranes for test strips. Our markups were typically in the 55% range which I believe is about the industry norm (got to pay employees and the electric company!). However, I dont think we had nearly the volume of sales as the test strip manufacturers.

  12. Jonathan
    Jonathan October 9, 2007 at 9:09 am | | Reply

    This highlights one of the problems with the entire health care industry. Money is made by getting us hooked on things, whether it is test strips, various medicines, pump supplies, etc., not by finding a cure. The drug companies get rich by getting us to use their latest drugs for the rest of our lives, maintaining our current health or delaying it from getting worse. There is no real profit for them in a long term successful beta cell transplant or similar breakthrough, so it is not funded. But, a drug trial to knock our cholesterol down 2% is.

    One of the other problems with test strips is the failure rate. My endo recently gave me the newest One-Touch model, telling me how much better it was, since the coding could be changed up or down. Problem was, the start up time was longer, so the meter was not ready for a sample for two more seconds than the old One Touch. Result — I wasted about 10 strips on failed tests. Then gave up on the new meter and went back to the old. But, it certainly worked for LifeScan — that’s 10 more strips I’m going to have to buy.

    The least that these companies could do would be to spin off their diabetes products divisions so we can buy stock in the companies and join in the profit. Or, perhaps, the community of diabetics needs to take control and design our own meter and strips and put them out on the market to compete with the existing market. If there is that much profit in the test strips, surely a competitor on price would do well.

  13. Chelle
    Chelle October 9, 2007 at 9:13 am | | Reply

    Through my employer, we had two companies to choose from for health insurance. Under one, I could get premium care from one of the top type 1 diabetes specialists in the country. Under the other, I got free One Touch Test Strips. I chose the free strips plan because of the immense cost savings. But my health would probably be better if I were able to benefit from the expertise of the specialist, who would help me use the results of my test strips better. But we diabetics can’t always have our cake and eat it too…unless we pay for it.

  14. jayg
    jayg October 9, 2007 at 9:15 am | | Reply

    I’m really lucky. Type I’s (like me)get strips for free through our employee insurance – not even a copay. I can’t afford to ever leave this job (I use at least 2 boxes a month). I think the actual cost of these strips is borderline criminal!
    jayg

  15. CrazyACpumper
    CrazyACpumper October 9, 2007 at 9:23 am | | Reply

    Test strips are SO expensive. Nearly $1 per strip?!?! Are they kidding? Like you said Amy, most T1s do 10 to 12. I should but I cut back because they are so expensive. I recently found some good comparison shopping/pricing at amazon.com. I am waiting for the package to see if all is well and worth it. The final price is just about half. Not too bad but it could be A LOT better! This is the MAIN source of managing our disease yet it is what costs us the most?! Make sense to anyone? I doubt it. And do not get me started on insulin costs…..

    It adds up to one thing, PWDs are expensive little buggers, huh?! (had to put some lame humor in there or I will go crazy!)

  16. Chris
    Chris October 9, 2007 at 10:11 am | | Reply

    I agree with all PP. Test strips are too expensive, but…How many diabetics spend $5/day on coffee, candy or fast food. Think of the improvement in diabetic health if everyone took their coffee/fast food/candy expense and applied it to purchasing and using test strips. Weight loss, better health and improved blood sugar control.
    Whle I doubt it applies to a single person on this board, I know a diabetic or two who complains about the cost of testing but not the cost of a big mack or snickers bar.

  17. Chris
    Chris October 9, 2007 at 10:23 am | | Reply

    Let me take that thought one step further. Anyone know how much it costs McDonalds to product that Big Mac? What is their profit margin? I know on an item like a Coca-Cola production is pennies. So if McD’s is making 55% profit on their SuperSize Value Meal shouldn’t we be just as “up in arms”, if not more so, over that? They make money feeding us junk that is BAD for us. Why is that more acceptable than making money creating test strips that are GOOD for us?

  18. Tracie
    Tracie October 9, 2007 at 10:50 am | | Reply

    The biggest issue this causes, IMO, is that people do NOT test when they should be because they are conserving their strips. I would be in that category. My insurance won’t pay for me to test more than once a day… At least according to my doctor.

  19. Tracie
    Tracie October 9, 2007 at 10:55 am | | Reply

    “How many diabetics spend $5/day on coffee, candy or fast food.”

    Well that’s pretty offensive and assuming of you, Chris. Your comment basically implies that McD’s and Coke are forcing us to eat their products. LOL

    I don’t eat at McD’s or any fast food restaurants “daily” nor do I eat candy on any sort of regular basis. I surely don’t spend $5 a day on junk food. So there’s nothing to get up in arms over… unless you’re implying we’re all weak-minded and succumb to the pressures of junk food advertising? Speak for yourself.

  20. mollyjade
    mollyjade October 9, 2007 at 10:58 am | | Reply

    Chris, I think it’s different because there’s less of a choice in the matter. If you don’t like the price or quality of McDonalds, you can go to Burger King or Wendy’s or any number of fast food restaurants. Or you can go to a slow food restaurant. Or eat at home. But for testing, you have to choose a brand and stick to it. Changing test strip brands requires a prescription from your doctor (if you’re fortunate enough to have insurance). And you buy at least a month’s supply at a time. Changing monitors also means inconsistency. You can eat a different lunch every day of the week, but you can’t use a different test strip every day.

  21. Felix Kasza
    Felix Kasza October 9, 2007 at 12:00 pm | | Reply

    > In my book, it’s a
    > slap in the face [...]
    > that the industry
    > refuses to together to
    > create a standard
    > universal test strip
    > that can be used in
    > any meter.

    Hi Amy,

    you’ve had better rants. Your wish would mean that we’d be stuck with the lowest common denominator — instead of my beloved and accurate to +/-5 points Contour meters, I might be stuck with some Lifescan or Accucheck piece of junk.

    No, thanks!

    Cheers,
    Felix.

  22. AmyT
    AmyT October 9, 2007 at 12:03 pm | | Reply

    Perhaps, Felix, but at least it would be a CHOICE for those who can’t afford the fancier stuff. Of course, they’d have to have a certain acceptable level of accuracy (!)

  23. Jim
    Jim October 9, 2007 at 12:17 pm | | Reply

    Some of you are missing the point. Glucose meter companies are gouging diabetics because they can. It is well past time for congress (ugh!) to set limits on test strip pricing. This is not only immoral, it is outright criminal.

  24. Jim
    Jim October 9, 2007 at 12:20 pm | | Reply

    And if you’re wondering how stupid glucose meter execs think diabetics are, just read the blog on colored meters…..

  25. Karen
    Karen October 9, 2007 at 12:20 pm | | Reply

    Amy,

    I AGREE with you completely. I admit that I do not dish out a co-pay for strips but I do for everything else. I often wonder if this is a “mistake” with my insuranc company but I’m keeping quiet! I KNOW that it will not always be the way and that one day I will be in the same position as many others. HOW do they get away with this? It’s crazy!!! You said it best “We are litterally bleeding out that money”. I think we should make a teeshirt with a meter that says free an then a trest strip on it and say BLOOD MONEY! I could get really creative here!!! Let us know if you get anywhere and if you need any help!!!

  26. RichW
    RichW October 9, 2007 at 1:10 pm | | Reply

    Every time I stick my finger I’m seeing a dollar burn up. What a mental picture. Oh, and my finger has a face. You are talented.

  27. AJ
    AJ October 9, 2007 at 1:59 pm | | Reply

    I have only had T1 for just over a year, and I have been constantly fighting with my insurance company (Anthem) to get them to pay for the strips. It says it in clear print: testing supplies are covered. But then they deny payment because they’re not “generic”.

    So, I fall into the “don’t test as often” group. Do you guys seriously check 10 times a day?

    I check 2-3 times a day, and my A1c has been right at 5.0 for the past year. Maybe I’m still “honeymooning”, but I personally see no need to test 10 times a day.

  28. Chris
    Chris October 9, 2007 at 7:41 pm | | Reply

    Tracie,
    Pls note I said that I did not think my comment regarding junk food applied to anyone reading this blog. Please also note that I said I KNOW (meaning I have met their acquaintance) diabetics who spend more than $5 on junk food but won’t spend the same testing the BGL.

  29. vicki
    vicki October 9, 2007 at 8:25 pm | | Reply

    Good show, Amy, this is definitely a worthy cause. Clearly the key to good control is frequent testing. Every diabetic needs to learn how different foods affect their BGs -and this involves lots of test strips. Once they learn that eating a potato, for instance (which the ADA thinks is just dandy) makes their BG rise, they’ll avoid them forever if they want to avoid complications. But strips are so expensive that many diabetics who would LIKE to do this can’t afford to.

    I test 10 times a day, every day. I’m a type 1 on insulin and this is the only way I know to keep good control. I’ve been diabetic for 10 years now and by frequent testing, have developed no complications. My goal is to never have them. Luckily, I have excellent insurance which allows for 300 test strips a month. That’s why I keep working, smile.

  30. Dennis
    Dennis October 9, 2007 at 8:42 pm | | Reply

    Well, Unfortuantely talking about it in her is nice, but won’t get much action, unless you Post WHOM to talk to about this …ie: Is it Our Leaders in the legislative branch? The FDA, The ADA or be it AARP or The Insurance Companies?

    And are aware the USA Citizens pay thiese higher Prices, so Other Countrie can afford to buy them at Lower Prices…ie: We subsidize them… This was the main reason when Drug prices were being faught at state levels vs Getting them thru Canada…

    So, to whome do we direct our complaints?

    FYI- As more “improved” test meters come out and we just have to have them, we are endorsing these higher cost gadgets and the Redeisnged Test strips required to work in them…

    So what happens to the former/older , but just as funcitonal, meters?
    I read they are still Made and shipped OverSeas and the cost of the older test strips are only 10 cents each…

  31. travis
    travis October 9, 2007 at 8:51 pm | | Reply

    Hello,

    You’re definitely right. Another issues is the markup pharmacies make on the strips. I get my strips from americandiabeteswholesale.com , an excellent resource for those with no insurance or whose insurance will accept it. I get 100 FreeStye strips for about $55, instead of about $105 at my local CVS. Seems like the pharmacies are making nearly 100%.

    Another thing I would advocate is greater accuracy and consistency in the technology. I hate getting false readings and suffering the consequences of over-eating or over-correcting.

  32. Amylia
    Amylia October 10, 2007 at 3:32 am | | Reply

    This issue really speaks to me, for obvious reasons as a T1 diabetic, especially now that I’m living abroad in Taiwan where ALL diabetics must pay OUT OF POCKET 100% for ALL of their strips. They have national health insurance here, but the gov’t only covers the insulin, not the cost of the meters OR the glucose strips. While insulin is a lot cheaper OTC here in Taiwan (about $20 a bottle for Lantus and $10 a bottle for Humalog OTC), the strips are the SAME as in the States, coming out to a little under $1 a strip, which I have to pay. It’s one of the reasons I WON’T be living in Taiwan longer term. I just can’t afford it on my salary, and I probably make a little more than the average Taiwanese person.

    When I had no insurance for a brief while in the States, I had to pay out of pocket for strips, too, and just didn’t test a lot. If you have to pay $1 a strip, let’s face it, your health and diabetes suffers greatly.

    It’s really sick. And it’s making us sick, too.

    Thanks for this post. I REALLY hope we lobby succesfully for some major changes on this. These companies shouldn’t be getting so rich off of us. I understand profit margins, but 60-80% seems extreme when it’s hurting people and preventing diabetics from the care they deserve. To me, it’s a basic human right that we don’t have, and that is wrong.

  33. Oz-Sco
    Oz-Sco October 10, 2007 at 5:50 am | | Reply

    This story reminds me how lucky i am to live in the UK. All my diabetic supplies are provided free. I just picked up 6 boxes of strips yesterday, it never crosses my mind what they cost.

  34. Penny
    Penny October 10, 2007 at 6:03 am | | Reply

    I’m lucky in that we pay a $5 copay per box of 50 strips (and they are Freestyle which are not “preferred” strips for whatever reason, even though it is one of the most accurate machines on the market)

    But, before we got this plan I had to pay up front for the strips and wait and wait for insurance to reimburse me 80% of the cost. It was reallly hard dishing out $300-$400 a month not knowing when I’d get money back.

    Because of this I feel for those with inadequate insurance or no insurance at all.

    And, in response to Chris’ comment about McDonald’s: The reason we are not “up in arms” about what McD charges for a Big Mac is because we don’t HAVE to eat 10-12 Big Macs a day. But, my son HAS to test his sugar that often and the meter companies know it. They know they can charge whatever they want because they know we are dependant on those little expensive pieces of plastic.

  35. Karen
    Karen October 10, 2007 at 6:50 am | | Reply

    Dennis,

    Want to know what they do with the old meters? I have a story for you. So the freestyle lite just came out…the new freestyle meter. Well if you call the company and say you want one they will give you one in exchange for one of the freestyle flash meters you own. They call it an “upgrade”. You know what they do with the old meter you mail in? They DESTROY it. That’s what they said!!! Can you believe that??? UGH! Makes me so mad.

  36. mollyjade
    mollyjade October 10, 2007 at 6:55 am | | Reply

    I’m eating crow. Here I was yesterday morning complaining about the cost of strips, when I went to pick up my new boxes in the afternoon, there was a note from someone (my doctor?) telling me how I can get strips for free from a different program. Free strips! And they’re sending free syringes, too. I feel like I just got a raise.

    Of course, now I’m annoyed that I spent $2000 on strips over the past two years and didn’t know about this program.

  37. QP
    QP October 10, 2007 at 6:57 am | | Reply

    I think anger at meter/test strip companies is mostly misdirected. It takes money come up with new technology (and meters HAVE improved significantly), and there is definitely competition among companies to suggest prices aren’t artificially high. What is outrageous is that people with diabetes are paying the cost. People do not choose to have diabetes, and there would be no reason to use too many if they were free or almost free (i.e. the government paid for them, as is the case in so many countries). The healthcare system is the problem.

  38. JasonJayhawk
    JasonJayhawk October 10, 2007 at 8:40 am | | Reply

    Thanks, Amy, for bringing this up. I wish the companies would be willing to provide a different price plan for “certified Type 1′s”… like a drug card, or special order program.

    It’s annoying seeing people take advantage of their insurance to sell strips on eBay (brown-market strips). And, I wonder how many of those strips were stolen from store shelves!

  39. Marc
    Marc October 10, 2007 at 1:45 pm | | Reply

    Great post. I have insurance, so I don’t have to worry about this too often, but it’s still outrageous. It would seem to me that the ADA or JDRF should be lobbying to get some laws on the books to change this. Not by forcing mfrs to lower their prices, but by allowing generics, even if that means requiring mfrs to open up their proprietary systems. It’s worked for drugs, and it should be done for test strips as well.

  40. Cara
    Cara October 10, 2007 at 3:53 pm | | Reply

    >:( Angry! That’s how I feel when I buy test strips. There’s no way we should be paying $1 per test strip! I’m lucky enough to have health insurance, but those who don’t…well, they can’t afford to test. I know. I’ve been there. It just sucks that they think that price gouging is acceptable! It’s not. We shouldn’t have to live in poverty to have our health.

  41. Felix Kasza
    Felix Kasza October 10, 2007 at 4:52 pm | | Reply

    Hello again, Amy –

    as a postscript, I wanted to add that Ascensia strips (the ones that I love for their accuracy, sampling, and no-coding) go for $.60 per strip on diabetocexpress.com, under the Bayer Patient Compliance program: http://www.diabeticexpress.com/content/ProductDetail.aspx?CategoryID=25&SubCategoryID=&ItemID=02-97

    ($28.44/50 instead of $46.29/50). So if all we want is strips that go for less than the dollar the original post mentioned, why, here you go!

    Cheers,
    Felix.

  42. Trunkles
    Trunkles October 10, 2007 at 6:20 pm | | Reply

    New Zealand has a social medicine system, where most pharmaceuticals are subsidised by government via the PHARMAC organisation. One of the things that PHARMAC do is to publish a schedule of what is subsidised and what the goverment actually pays the manufacturer/importer for it! I had a little hunt through the schedule and found the following number. (I’ve done the exchage rate calculation and rounded them up to whole US dollars.)

    A Glucagon kit – $21

    A pack of 5 300 unit vials of…

    Humulin R/ActRapid – $33

    Humulin NPH / Protaphane – $23

    Lantus – $73

    NovoRapid – $42

    Humalog – $46

    A box of 50 test strips for either an Accu-chek or Optium meter (the only ones available here) costs just $17

    So there you are, proof positive that you are being ripped off for your test strips, if nothing else.

  43. Felix Kasza
    Felix Kasza October 10, 2007 at 7:41 pm | | Reply

    Trunkles,

    we (in the US) are being “ripped off”, as you put it, so that freeloaders like you in NZ get their stuff on the cheap. If we were to start buying stuff in Canada, for instance, we would quickly notice that either Canadian prices go up (Canadian health system doesn’t like the new pricing? No strips, then!), or US manufacturers stop manufacturing.

    In short, if the buyers of strips do not make the production of strips worth the manufacturers’ time and expense, then there won’t be strips.

    We could of course counter that by forcing manufacturers to keep making strips, maybe even at a loss. But that would have to happen elsewhere, as the US has abloished slavery and indentured servitude.

    Cheers,
    Felix.

  44. AmyT
    AmyT October 11, 2007 at 8:16 am | | Reply

    Felix,
    You’re getting unnecessarily nasty here. I’m going to have to cut you off if you don’t reel it in a bit…

  45. Jai
    Jai October 11, 2007 at 8:20 am | | Reply

    Hi All, This is my first post. I just happened upon this site searching for cheaper testing strips. I didn’t notice anyone mention this specific fact so I wonder if I am the only one having this particular issue. My insurance actually pays for my strips but only based on their TIER values. This means that my Ascensia Contour meter that I LOOOVE is out!! They are non-preferred for United Health Care. They will only pay like 5 bucks towards np strips costing about $90 a box. Just yesterday I had to go get a Life Scan meter and their strips, if I want to be able to get strips each month for only a $10 co-pay. Don’t most strips cost about the same for all the meters? What is this about … that the insurance companies now have preferred and non-preferred testing strips? Worrying about generic vs non-generic medicine wasn’t enough …. now this ??? And this One Touch Ultra Smart meter can’t be too smart… it has to be coded .. where my Contour does not. Does anyone know the accuracy of these Life Scan meters. Am I going to be really disappointed in the long run ….. more than I already am, I mean.

  46. Chris
    Chris October 11, 2007 at 2:17 pm | | Reply

    Penny,
    So what you are saying is that because we “need” test strips the company cannot exceed a certain profit margin, but because we don’t “need” McDonalds they can make whatever profit the market will allow? If you make a product that is unhealty but not necessary, your company can earn, earn, earn. If you provide a product that allows me to optimize my health, your ability to profit is limited. This doesn’t make sense to me. 1) We all need food. So by the logic above, there should be a limit to the profit allowed in food. Heathier food should be limited to lower profit? 2) What would the incentive be for companies to continue to supply us with the things we need if they cannot make a profit?

    I have been diabetic since the early 80′s, Before the home glucose meter. If there had been no profit motive, would they have ever made it to the market? I am darn glad to have mine – faults and all.

    Right now the problem is how to get strips for those without insurance. When I was a kid the problem was that you couldn’t test even if you WANTED to. My mother worked for a big healthcare firm, we had great insurance, we had all the beef and pork insulin we wanted, but there were no meters and no strips to buy.

    So because we can all choose not to eat McDonald’s they can/will grow and prosper unhindered, but because we cannot choose the need to test our bloodsugar we want to regulate the companies that manufacture the strips.

    Having a chronic illness has its downside. It is generally more expensive to be sick than it is to be healthy. But home glucose meters exist because someone thought they could profit.

  47. WC
    WC October 11, 2007 at 3:04 pm | | Reply

    14 times a day? Did you ever stop to think that maybe your technology addiction and overreacting (micromanaging your diabetes, if you will) are what’s feeding this industry? I test 4-5 times a day, and use conventional multiple daily injections (because my doctor thinks pumps are a waste of money) and pay around $100 a month for all of my supplies, OVER THE COUNTER. I’ve been T1 for over 16 years, and my A1C is consistently < 6. Maybe if you stopped stressing yourself out by trying to control your BG every minute of every day, you’d be better off. You do know that stress can affect your BG, don’t you?

  48. Karen
    Karen October 11, 2007 at 6:27 pm | | Reply

    Wow WC…just WOW!…you think that strips are expensive b/c people test often? I’m SO happy for you that you have an A1C below 6.0 that’s great for YOU but it may not be so easy for others. Okay? Everyone is different. So…I wouldn’t worry about other people “stressing” about testing b/c there are worse things to stress out about in this world. If you saw someone who only tested once a day and had a missing arm you would judge them too, right? So I think I’d rather test more often and have better results. There is no way that cost are high just become some people test more than YOU do.

  49. Theodora
    Theodora October 12, 2007 at 12:02 am | | Reply

    “How many diabetics spend $5/day on coffee, candy or fast food.”

    Sheesh, I spend less than $5 a day on food period. It’s called ‘cooking’, and I can’t afford to spend that money on food; I need it to pay for test strips, doctor visits, insulin, syringes, etc…

    Thanks for some ideas on how to reduce that cost. I’d like to be able to afford a life again. ^.^;

  50. WC
    WC October 12, 2007 at 4:39 pm | | Reply

    Actually, Karen, you missed my point entirely. I’m tired of reading about people whose lust for the latest and greatest D technology is making their health care expensive. I shopped around for my meter and pay about $.50 a test strip. There are affordable alternatives out there, and it’s possible to maintain a healthy A1C without being on the cutting edge.

    If you want all that fancy gear, than don’t complain about having to pay more for it. People buying all these expensive gadgets has turned diabetes into a huge cash cow, and at the same time created a huge barrier for research into technologies that might produce a cure: The Big Pharma Lobbies.

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