Accu-Chek To: Program – Saving $ on Test Strips & Getting More

logoIt’s little things like this that I love to share.

Accu-Chek has a new program that gives a fantastic discount on blood glucose monitoring strips and a little something extra to feed the soul.

It’s called Accu-Chek To: and I’ve signed up this week because I believe that they’re doing something right. (A great price. A great idea. A great program.)

It’s a monthly subscription program and they describe it like this:

Every month you’ll receive a box filled with the ACCU-CHEK® essentials you need, plus amazing items for you to discover – all delivered right to your door.

You’re given two options: Accu-Chek Essentials or Accu-Check Essentials + Discovery. It’s a five dollar difference between the two and here’s the reason why: with the Discovery add on, they surprise you each month with samples that help to nourish your body and soul (and aren’t necessarily diabetes-centric).

When you to to the website, you are given the option to view a quick video (but here it is, because you know…)

and then as you scroll down, you’re presented with two choices to start:

Do you have an Accu-Check blood glucose meter?

(If you don’t, you have the option to choose a meter. While I do have a Nano, they’ve now come out with a designer version and it’s.so.cool… Ahem.) You can choose a Nano or Aviva Plus…

Then you choose your monthly subscription option… and here’s the cool part.

50 strips = $20.00

100 strips = $40.00

(If you want the goody surprise box, it’s $25.00 and $45.00.)

You are getting the strips for almost 50% off what you would pay at a store. 

I went to a big name store (rhymes with Ball-Mart) a few days ago just to see what the shelf price of strips were. Even the cheap-o strips don’t meet that price when you use the Accu-Chek To: program. And you get a meter for free. And you don’t have to go to the store. And the strips are accurate. (After all the work that’s been done with StripSafely, I know which strips I feel I can trust. My personal opinion.)

I’ll get strips sent to me every month and a box of goodies. This month’s samples could include lip balm, body butter, tasty treats… and I’m all about that. If you like what you get for samples, you can purchase more at the site. (And you can also purchase more diabetes testing supplies. I’m going to check that out, too…)

The boxes are sent out on the third Wednesday of every month. Tick-tock. Get yours for this month. 

So, if you are looking to supplement your existing strips every month (which I am doing, as my insurance won’t pay for the number of strips I blow through each month) or you are trying to figure out a way to keep costs down and take care of yourself, this is the program we’ve all been waiting for.

The Fine Print

Here’s the deal: you cannot use this program and get the cost reimbursed through Medicaid or Medicare. It’s for individuals who either do not have health insurance or you have health insurance but will not seek to get reimbursed from your insurance using this program.  It’s only available for U.S. residents right now. 

For individuals like me on a high deductible insurance program and strips are part of that high deductible, while I can’t get the strips I receive through the monthly subscription program as part of my deductible, every bit helps.

I am not an employee of Roche. I am not compensated for this post. My opinions are my own. I just think this is an amazing program that does two things: saves me money on things that are expensive for my diabetes and gives me a little lift with the samples they send. 

 

Where All The Cool Kids Will Be On Monday…

Less than a year ago, Bennet Dunlap decided that the status quo just wasn’t good enough for us.

We needed to band together as a community to talk about blood glucose meter accuracy and what it means to the 26 million people with diabetes (and growing). Better accuracy begets better control and better outcomes for those of us who rely on our blood glucose meters to give an accurate number. Better accuracy, quite frankly, wasn’t happening.

So, Bennet created the Strip Safely campaign and gave us all a voice under the Strip Safely umbrella. I’m the Robin to his Batman, mostly saying: “Holy glucose meters!” and ensuring our costumes are freshly pressed by Alfred. It’s an honor to work with him and every other person who believes in the importance of blood glucose meter accuracy.

Last summer, Strip Safely attracted the notice of those at the FDA and a relationship began to develop, one that has grown into something important for the diabetes community… and on Monday, you can see for yourself.

This is where all the cool kids will be on Monday… on a Live Chat with Bennet and Dr. Courtney Lias.

(P.S. You are a cool kid, if you were wondering.)

Here’s the details:

FDA

Talk with FDA expert Courtney Lias and Patient Advocate Bennet Dunlap about Glucose Monitors and Test Strips

Monday, March 31, 1:30–2:30 pm (EDT)

  • Do you want to learn more about the role of the FDA in the regulation of medical devices, such as glucose monitors and test strips, used in the management of diabetes?
  • Do you want to learn what the FDA is doing to increase the accuracy of blood glucose monitors and test strips?

When you participate in this friendly online chat, you will:

  • Enjoy an informal, open discussion with a fellow patient advocate, Center for Devices and Radiological Health subject-matter-expert and others in the diabetes community.
  • Learn more about the role of the CDRH, specifically the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and its work to ensure the safety and effectiveness of medical devices used in the management of diabetes.
  • Get your questions answered about the newest FDA draft guidances, which are proposing new recommendations intended to improve the accuracy and safe use of blood glucose monitoring test systems, giving healthcare providers and people with diabetes better tools to manage blood glucose levels.
  • Whether you want to just listen to the interview, ask relevant questions about the medical device regulatory process or just speak your mind on the newest draft guidance document…. you should join in the conversation.

Register for this event and be sure to mark your calendars and join us on March 31st, 2014.

Please let your friends in the diabetes community know about this event. While not all the cool kids will be able to make it, I hope that you’ll join us all on the chat and learn how you can help the community and FDA. We are a community and we can’t do diabetes alone.

Two Minutes…

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Two minutes.

It took two minutes, a cotton ball, lots of blood, a nasty Autolet lancet device that doubled as a finger guillotine, and a clunky glucose meter. It took all of that to get a blood sugar reading and we were happy. Technology and advances in insulin analogues have vastly improved our diabetes management, but we’re still reliant on two important things to keep us alive: insulin and blood glucose testing. They work in symbiosis. When a blood glucose reading isn’t accurate, the dosing choices diabetics make can have disastrous consequences, both short and long term.

That’s why I’m a steadfast and vocal supporter of the Strip Safely campaign, begun by the incomparable Bennet Dunlap of Your Diabetes May Vary. Anyone who has a friend or family member relying on the accuracy of a blood glucose test needs to raise their voice to Congress and ask for post-market testing of blood glucose strips. Why? Allow us to explain (and when I say “us”, I mean the Strip Safely team and the website: StripSafely.com.)

At a recent public meeting the FDA acknowledged that there are some 510(k) cleared blood glucose meters and strips that do not meet the accuracy standards for which they were approved. There is currently no clear course of action to insure people with diabetes are using blood glucose strips that meet regulatory requirements. – StripSafely

There are reasons for certain meters and strips not meeting the accuracy standards and I won’t get into the details (You can learn all about the background at StripSafely.), but what you need to know is this:

Every time a person with diabetes checks her blood sugar, the test outcome is like target shooting with buckshot. The current FDA approved accuracy range is currently ±20 percent of the actual blood glucose level if it’s over 75 mg/dl and ±15 points if it’s below 75.

Let’s do the math (Bear with me, you know how my math skills are!):

My blood sugar is actually 180 mg/dl, but my meter could show anything between 144 mg/dl to 216 mg/dl. If it’s actually 65 mg/dl, my meter could show a result of 50 mg/dl to 80 mg/dl.

So, what’s the big deal? Whoop-de-doo, right?

Some meters and test strips are not giving those results. Not even close. More than 25% of currently available glucose meters fail to meet the accuracy standard set by the FDA.

The ranges are wider. The diabetes treatment choices are based on the results given. Inaccurate results means that someone like me, who only treats a hypoglycemic reaction at 75 mg/dl or lower, may not treat a low blood sugar, putting myself at risk. Or I may give myself more insulin than necessary if the meter reading says I’m 216 mg/dl, but in actuality, I’m 180 mg/dl, setting me up for a future hypoglycemic episode, again putting myself at risk.

The FDA knows about this issue. They currently don’t have a plan. Strip Safely does. Here’s what we’re asking:

  • Recognition that the accuracy of BG strips is a public health and safety issue. (25 million PWD in the USA are at risk!)
  • Ongoing testing of BG strips to assure compliance with regulatory accuracy standards.
  • Quality assurance should be done on strips sold through normal distribution channels.
  • Standards for accuracy should improve to the latest ISO standards.
  • The standards that meters and strips are failing to achieve is 2003’s +/- 20%, 95% of the time
  • We need better accuracy standards than ones created in 2003.
  • CMS competitive bidding should create a process that consider quality not just price.
  • Public awareness of how to file an adverse event complaint on BG testing systems.
  • Contact information to file an adverse outcomes report should be on all BG testing devices.

How do we help? Raise our voices to Congress through letters telling them that glucose test strip accuracy matters to 25 million of their constituents. None of what we’re asking is outrageous. The FDA is under Congressional mandate; they do what Congress says.

Strip Safely has sample letters that you can use. Take your personal story and share it with Congress. Make sure they understand that they can help us by requiring post-market accuracy testing of glucose testing strips.

With those samples, it will probably take you two minutes (O.K., maybe just a little longer than two minutes…) to send off your own letter. If you want, you can steal mine. Seriously. Just change the paragraph about how long you (or your child) has had diabetes.

Here’s my letter:

Dear Senator/Representative ….:

Would you allow an airplane to fly if you knew that it could only accurately land 80% of the time?

Would you allow inebriated motorists on the road because the breathalyzer equipment used didn’t detect the correct BAC for two out of every ten people stopped?

You wouldn’t, because you would be putting your constituents at risk.

Yet, the FDA is currently putting many of your constituents in a precarious position by not providing post-market quality assurance testing of blood glucose strips.

At twelve, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. For the past thirty years, my life has depended on a delicate balance of insulin and food to keep me alive and healthy. A blood glucose meter tells me how much insulin to take or how much food I need to eat when my blood sugar becomes low.

I rely on that blood glucose meter and test strips to make crucial choices several times a day, and the wrong choice could have severe adverse consequences if the result showing on the meter is not accurate.

Unfortunately, at a recent meeting with the Diabetes Technology Society, the FDA acknowledged that there is a problem with some blood glucose test strip manufacturers not delivering the level of accuracy for which they were approved. The FDA does not currently have a plan to do anything about the problem. This impacts more than just the diabetics who use these strips; it impacts their families who care about them.

I need your help. So do the 25 million Americans who have diabetes and depend on blood glucose meters and test strips to stay healthy and alive. Will you advocate for us? Will you advocate with us?

We’d like to see the FDA institute a post-market quality assurance testing program for blood glucose meters and test strips, ensuring that the current accuracy standards that the FDA set and continue to be met after the manufacturer’s initial 501K clearance.

Please assist us in ensuring that many of your constituents are not at risk from adverse health consquences. I’d be happy to discuss this with you in further detail if you have questions or ways in which I could help. My contact information is below.

Thank you.
Sincerely,

Want to do more than just sending a letter to your Senator or Representative? 

You can join the Strip Safely team here and get the latest updates by email.

You can write others that can help to make a FDA post-market quality assurance testing program for meters and test strips a reality. Their names and information are here. 

Love Twitter? Use it to send your message to the following handles:

  • @FDADeviceInfo
  • @US_FDA
  • @FDArecalls
  • @FDAcdrhIndustry

Suggested Tweets:

  • @FDADeviceInfo @US_FDA @FDAcdrhIndustry Make FDA = Fixing Diabetes Accuracy. Post Market Study of Test Strips use @FDArecalls #StipSafely
  • @FDADeviceInfo Make sure PWD are safe. Implement Post Market review of TestStrip Accuracy #StipSafely
  • @FDADeviceInfo Make sure PWD are safe. Require diabetes strips sold in market meet accuracy. Not all do. #StipSafely
  • @FDADeviceInfo use @FDArecalls To get inaccurate diabetes strips out of the market #StipSafely
  • Accuracy of diabetes test strips is a life safety issue. @FDADeviceInfo need program to insure strip safety. #StipSafely
  • Learn about diabetes test strip safety from @StripSafely
  • Call on @US_FDA to implement diabetes test strips testing to insure that what PWDs use, meets FDA standards www.StripSafely.com

You can also donate to the Strip Safely campaign here.

Please help. We want to strip safely.