The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning people with diabetes against purchasing or selling pre-owned blood glucose test strips.
Managing diabetes can be expensive, leading some people to resort to buying or selling test strips. And while it’s technically legal, the FDA notes, to sell unused strips, the organization advises against the practice because of the risk of inaccurate results and infection.
Test strips need to be stored properly to provide accurate blood glucose readings, and it is difficult to know whether pre-owned strips have been stored under the right conditions. Strips that have been previously owned may also have been tampered with — having the expiration date changed or covered up, for instance. “If you buy pre-owned strips, it is hard to know whether the strips were stored properly. Test strips could also be expired. A lack of proper storage or using expired strips could put you at risk for getting incorrect results from your glucose meter. And incorrect results can put you at risk for serious health complications — and even death,” the agency notes.
Additionally, secondhand strips may not be cleared for sale in the United States — having instructions that are not in English and a different appearance from other strips of the same brand are signs that the strips may not be safe. Finally, test strips that have been opened by someone else may have small amounts of blood on them, potentially exposing a new owner to infection.
The FDA recommends that people with diabetes not buy pre-owned test strips and instead buy new, unopened vials of strips designed specifically for their blood glucose meter. Those who do not know where to purchase the strips or who are having difficulty affording them should speak with their health-care provider, the FDA states. Health professionals may be able to provide test strip samples to fill in a gap or to give referrals to assistance programs.
For more information, see “How to Safely Use Glucose Meters and Test Strips for Diabetes” on the FDA website. And for tips that can help you reduce your medical costs, read “Don’t Let Diabetes Break Your Bank,” by nurse David Spero.