September 8, 2006

Why Do Strips Cost MORE When all Other Technology is Cheaper?

Ten years ago, I bought a cheap computer with a soon-to-be-outdated operating system for $1,900. Eight years later, I bought a much more fashionable computer for a mere $750.

So why is it that 100 blood sugar testing strips, which were $60 eight years ago now cost almost $100? Every other high tech item on the planet has dropped in price except these blood testing supplies we people with diabetes are dependent on.

Something stinks here!

There are technologies out there that can measure blood sugar without the need for any costly disposable. Several companies have gone into testing with meters that use noninvasive methods to measure blood sugar. Several seem to work quite well. But these are small upstart companies with limited funding and without the resources to bring new products to market.

Big Pharma, which is raking in the profits from the $100 a box strips, is most definitely not putting its efforts into developing this kind of technology.

The profit numbers for the test strip business are hard to find online, but a 2003 report available on the web estimated that profits from disposable blood sugar testing supplies would be near $6 billion dollars a year by 2005, with a 15% annual growth rate. View sales estimates here.

That's a LOT of money--and a lot of motivation for big Pharma to avoid investing in new technologies that would make noninvasive monitoring possible. A not terribly paranoid mind might find itself asking just how far these big companies might go to preserve that $6 billion dollars of profit. Do they buy up promising patents and sit on them? Do their lobbyists make sure that the small companies attempting to produce such devices encounter overwhelming amounts of regulatory intervention from their totally owned subsidiary, the FDA?

If the big companies had invested even a small amount of real money into developing new noninvasive testing technology, the chances are very good we'd have meters now that did burn money like a Hummer burns gas.

But with the money pouring into drug company coffers from the disposable strips, you can be sure that the only companies working on noninvasive meters will continue to be small, fringe companies with little funding, while the big guys will continue to assure the public that, "Noninvasive meters don't work"--while continuing to raise test strip prices.

Gives a whole new meaning to the concept of "Blood Suckers" doesn't it?


George said...

This is something that drives me and most Diabetics insane! I love how you can buy a machine for 20 bucks or even get one for free but the strips are where they make the big bucks.

I wish someone would step in and help us out on this.

Anonymous said...

You can do without an ipod. You can't do without an accurate glucometer and still be in control of your diabetes.

Speaking of prices....
how about the cost of Lantus ?
It's ungodly expensive!!! I don't have insurance, so it costs me in excess of $70 a vial. It's worth it, though.