July 28, 2009

It's Official: I'm Not An Influential Blogger

With much ballyhoo Roche just flew what they defined as the 29 most "influential" diabetes bloggers to an all expenses paid talk fest where, it appears, everything diabetes was open to discussion except the price of test strips and the inaccuracy of meters. Roche, in case you forgot, is the company that manufactures the Accu-Chek Aviva meter.

I recognized many of the attendees, who are indeed influential. But by no means all. In fact there were seven "influential" bloggers I had never before heard of including a recently diagnosed person with Type 2 who according to Google Reader has a whopping 38 subscribers.

Roche stated that they intend to publish materials for the newly diagnosed that will point them to these chosen people's blogs, which makes it more than an issue of wounded pride to me that this blog and its associated Blood Sugar 101 blog were ignored.

I have a lot more than 38 subscribers on Google News, folks. My latest Google Analytics report says that over the past month some 65,000 people visited my pages of whom almost 10,000 are returning visitors. Google makes these statistics available to advertisers. They aren't kept secret. I know for a fact that quite a few of the "influential bloggers" are not drawing anywhere near that kind of traffic and, in the case of the diabetes community sites invited, their retention levels--returning visitors month by month--are far lower than my 10,000.

So it does not take advanced paranoia to wonder if the reason I was excluded was that I blogged several times about the egregiously poor performance of Roche's Aviva meter. I have had three of them and all three were dangerously inaccurate, not matching lab results, and more importantly, not matching the meter's own results on closely repeated tests with the same blood draw.

Since the influential diabetes bloggers who were invited report that Roche's reps made it clear that opening a discussion about problems with their meters and strips were offensive, the reasons for my exclusion are clear.

Unfortunately, though, my exclusion means that Roche will finance the production of materials that doctors will give to the newly diagnosed pointing them to blogs full of feel-good posts about living with diabetes, enthusiastic endorsements of products the blogger has gotten for free, and no pointers to the vital information that could keep them from developing diabetic complications.

Because folks, whatever else you read on these pages, the central mission of this blog and the Blood Sugar 101 web site, is to let people know the truth about what blood sugar levels destroy their bodies and what the safe and effective strategies are that they can use to avoid this damage.

This message works. I hear on a regular basis from people who tell me they followed the advice given on the page about How To Get Your Blood Sugar Under Control and brought their A1cs down into the 5% range, even when they started with A1cs as high as 15%. And it isn't just the newly diagnosed. I heard recently heard from someone who brought a 15% A1c down into the normal range with these techniques who was a decade past diagnosis.

So Roche's decision to choose "feel good" diabetes bloggers as representatives of the "online diabetes community" and omit these pages from its list of recommended sites intended to be distributed to all newly diagnosed people with diabetes is not trivial.

It will also mean more people with Type 2 who blame themselves for causing their diabetes will not learn the truth about the real causes of Type 2 Diabetes. Blaming people for causing their Type 2 diabetes is a tragic trend, promoted by the media and all too many doctors.

Why is it tragic? Because guilt and self-hatred leads to denial. I cannot tell you how many people I have heard from who told me that until they learned that they did NOT cause their Type 2 diabetes by reckless overeating they could not bear to do the research it would take to conquer it. I have even heard a truly devastating story--from a local acquaintance--about a woman in her early 50s who refused a kidney transplant because she believed she had caused her diabetes and decided she didn't deserve the kidney.

Beyond that, Roche's move to define and support their choice of "influential diabetes bloggers" and to promote their selection of these bloggesr to the media should be a warning to all of us.

It illuminates the strategies used to control discourse that are employed by the commercial interests that profit mightily by exploiting those of us with diabetes of every type.

If they can't silence the bloggers who tell the truths that don't support their profits they can anoint other, less threatening bloggers, give them a high profile, and hope that by doing so they can herd the newly diagnosed people to bloggers who won't keep them from buying their inaccurate overpriced meters, expensive dangerous drugs, and deceptively promoted high carb "healthy" foods marketed by greedy corporations.

Because it's a simple fact, known to everyone in marketing, that if you give people free air fare, free premium hotel rooms, and expensive meals, they will think twice about attacking your products. That is why drug companies wine and and dine doctors. Because it works. It is why Roche flew in all these influential diabetes bloggers and laid out the high price spread for them.

Keep an eye on these "influential bloggers" over the next month and track how many mention the FDA's attempt to demand accountability from meter manufacturers. Track how many report research about the dangers of the drugs being forced on people with diabetes. Compare the ratio of feel good/cat blogging on their pages to information that might prevent one person from coming down with an unnecessary diabetic complication.

And if telling the truth will keep me from being "influential" as defined by meter companies, drug companies and the ADA, I'm just going to have to live with it. And console myself with the rate my blog traffic is growing at, which is currently a healthy 50% a year.



Allison said...

Well, Scott King, Christopher Thomas and Fran Carpentier are hardly known for their docile attitude towards diabetes. Trust me, there was a smackdown going on at Roche, though I found it highly unproductive because we were not there to discuss the cost of test strips. The marketing department doesn't set prices. Even if they told us why it costs so much, they couldn't fix it. And even if you said, "Your meter sucks" the most the VP of Marketing could say is "OK." what do you think they would have done if you were there?

It was that talking about the lack of insurance for d-patients (uh, Roche isn't an insurance company) or why test strips are $1 each when bought from the pharmacy was BESIDES the point. We went to talk about how companies should communicate with their patients online. That's it.

And I am HIGHLY insulted that you would think that I could be "bought." Have you ever seen me say anything about diabetes products that I do not believe in on my blog? No. You haven't. In fact, I don't even USE Roche products and flying me to meet with their marketing department? Well, OF COURSE I'm going to go and try to tell them what shit they shouldn't get into. That's what I do as MY JOB. IN REAL LIFE. I am a social media marketer. I kinda know what I'm talking about!

As for expensive meals? We went to Maggiano's. Hardly expensive. And breakfast and lunch? Was catered at Roche. Mmmm, corporate lunches!

I am sorry you feel insulted that you weren't invited to Roche. But DO NOT attack the people who went because you're jealous. These are my friends, my colleagues, people who are working day and night to make education more accessible to people with diabetes. If you feel threatened because a few of us were given a chance to meet with some folks from ONE pharmaceutical company, then I feel sorry for you. We did not ask to go, so please do not treat us as if we are stupid pawns in a global health scheme. You should know better than that.

jimpurdy1943@yahoo.com said...

I agree fully with you. This was a huge conflict of interest. I've been busy this morning trying to delete all my links to all the bloggers who accepted the Roche freebies. I wouldn't trust a doctor who accepted free travel, hotels and meals from drug and medical equipment manufacturers, and I no longer want to read blogs by the Roche bloggers.

Anna said...

I think Roche inadvertantly paid you an incredible compliment. Roche knows you have integrity and can't be wooed or corrupted!

Anonymous said...

Jenny: I can completely commiserate with you. That's the advocacy about T2 I've been trying to combat for years! I even brought it up in an NIH grant study meeting last night. And while I totally understand that T1 has its own issues, I did feel as if Roche needed to listen to more established T2s also. My personal feeling? If all T2s get aware and start really taking care of themselves, which some T2s can alleviate any lack of control with just diet and exercise, for just a small window or period of time, Roche has lost a customer. Pharma ha a built-in audience with T1s. T2s - many pre-diabetics can stall off the condition or diagnosis - aren't as steady a market share.

This post took some courage to put out there, but you indeed have spoken some thoughts that I was thinking and cringing as I was thinking it, for lack of being grateful.

But I thank you for being such a strong voice for T2s. I am one T2 that really, really, really appreciates it!

water said...

I am hoping these blogs have comments. I've found some of my favorite blogs that way.

Lee Ann Thill said...

I'll assume I'm not amongst the 7 of those 29 who you've deemed "influential".

The summit was at least partly about finding ways to engage more people in the D social media circle and enhancing the D-OC - which is something I think we should all support. Criticizing and insulting other D-bloggers, whether it's outright or more backhanded, seems counter-productive at best.

Building bridges is generally a better idea than burning them. You might not want to build bridges with Roche, but there's something to be said for building bridges with other D-bloggers.

That's my uninfluential 2 cents.

Unknown said...

I am very glad you brought to light one aspect of this problematic conference and the issues around big pharma buying into patient-led territory. HOWEVER - I have a lot of respect for many patient bloggers who went and do not think they should be personally criticized. These bloggers, many of whom have personally helped me with my D-endeavors, truly care about their community and work hard to improve the lives of other PWDs.

I do think there needs to be a larger and less hostile discussion here between the bloggers/readers/patients about our relationship to the pharma industry. It will not help us to turn on each other - don't led them divide and conquer us!

You can't create a firewall between the marketing dept, the executives, and even insurance companies in this industry. We need to recognize that all of these parties have a shared profit-driven interest. And while we are signing petitions for improved diabetes care in a health care reform - they are sending men in droves to lobby on capitol hill for the opposite.

I'll stop here - but in sum, yes DOC - let's please discuss constructively what to do about the inherent relationship between us and pharma - but let's not attach each other! We're in the same fight and these bloggers are wonderful leaders in our community.

Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

Wow, all this post makes me want to do is stop reading YOUR blog. In my view everyone who writes about diabetes is influential, I remember the days when there was no one. Go after Roche all you want, but lay off the people who attended the summit.

Zita said...

Wow. I can see that your experience with diabetes has been much different than mine. I could do all the analytics I want with this disease and the main thing I've learned is 1+2 does NOT always equal 3. For a Type 3 (parent to a Type 1 Diabetic) with a TYPE A personality, that has been my biggest challenge of being my son's caretaker for 7 yrs. I've been letting all the gray unknown areas and unpredictable biological reactions make me feel like a failure. But you know what, in just 3 months of reading blogs like George's "The B.A.D. Blog", Kelly's "Diabetesalicousness", and Kerri's "Six Until Me" blogs (as only examples since there are so many others) I now realize it is what my endocronologist has been telling me, "In the end, it's all numbers, and do the best you can." And, lady, believe me I'm trying to do my best, but no matter how hard I beat myself up, no matter how many times I check my son in the middle of the night, no matter how much I TRY to predict what he will eat and how much exercise he will get, in the end, the body has a mind of it's own. Two of my siblings are doctors and one is married to another doctor. I'm not knocking them, but believe me, I've had my child with Type 1 diabetes stay with them for a few days and they can't get the numbers and the stars to align any better!! I now know after reading what you call these "feel good" bloggers that we're all in the same boat, doing the best we can with the oars and paddles we've been given. There ain't no life boat that's been thrown our way yet. So before you dismiss them because you can't get a reading on the "feel good" aspect through Google Analytics, know that I don't care if I'm their only reader on a given day or their 10,000th reader. On that day, they helped me get through one more day of dealing with the D! That's all anyone who writes anything can ask...to be able to reach one person at a time so they don't feel so alone in the existence of this big, overwhelming disease. And, I agree with others comments, I've never known these folks to be shy about how they felt so I don't have any concern that pharma could influence them. And, I have on certain days turned to some of these folks for the "nuts and bolts" of the D. After reading Bernard's "Diabetes Technology Blog" I changed the lancing device for my son to spare him some pain. I don't believe Bernard was paid by Pharma to take a picture that showed the difference in the length of the lancets. With that said, I don't want to waste any more time on your site. Good bye.

Jim said...

Perhaps the real test was to see the reaction of the rest of the community after picking out specific people to attend. After all they are in Marketing.

Jim Brooks

Gail said...

After reading this post all it does is remind me how bitter people can be, instead of being happy for other bloggers that there was an opportunity for people to meet with companies to try and make it better for people with diabetes, you take them down. This is not how we should be. Everyone is in this together to find a cure since I know that is all I can think about for my daughter who was diagnosed last year at the age of 2!!!!! She has her entire life ahead of her dealing with this horrendous disease and I for one am supportive of anyone out there that is trying to help us.

Jenny said...

There's only one reason anyone should be reading my blog: because they find the information I posted on it useful.

If the content isn't compelling, why bother with it?

I learned a long time ago that the friends I make by holding my tongue aren't worth having. I also learned that when I call things as I see them and don't kowtow to self-appointed leaders I learn a great deal, both from supporters and from people who disagree with me.

My confrontational stance frees other people from the need to be polite to ME as a supposed "influential leader" and I am much more likely to get unvarnished opinions and feedback that way.

The fact is I get a shocking amount of mail from big corporations who want to co-opt my my traffic. They want to advertise on my pages. They want me to "let my readers know" about their products. They want to send me things for free so I can "feature" them.

I don't take anything free that isn't offered, publicly, to the rest of the online diabetes community. And when I do get something free, like, that Aviva Meter, I review it honestly, unlike some "influential" bloggers who never mention a product except to praise it, a sure way to keep the freebies flowing.

Other people can do what they want. Other people can take the attitude that the quality and price of Roche's products, and the fact that the FDA is looking at whether the inaccuracy of their product is killing people unnecessarily is irrelevant.

I honor any of the d-bloggers who went to the conference and stood up for the critical needs of people with diabetes. If they are Type 1s, I hope they mentioned the unnecessary hypos suffered by people with diabetes because their meters can be off by as much as 20 mg/dl at low readings and there is a huge difference between 80 mg/dl and 60 mg/dl when your blood sugar is dropping.

My experience with Roche was that when I contacted them about a major problem with hypos not detected by their meters--and proven by a lab draw--the only concern they had was to try to browbeat me into giving a taped statment on the phone that I had not been injured, so that they would not have to worry about a law suit. That told me all I needed to know about their "commitement" to the diabetes community.

And that is why the online diabetes community needs to partner with organizations who, at a minimum, are willing to remedy actions that they themselves are taking which harm people with diabetes.

Letting yourself be used by the likes of Roche or the ADA while they continue policies that harm us, as a group, is not going to improve anything. If Roche had had the guts to invite the likes of me and allow us to discuss the issues, relevant to their products with people who had the ability to do something about it, it would have been progress and I would have been the first to endorse it.

As it is, I wonder if the next get-together of "influential" bloggers will dis-include the people who did stand up at this one.

I would hope ALL invitees would check this out before attending another such do and refuse to participate if it becomes clear that Roche is only interested in co-opting, not cooperating.

Christopher Thomas said...

You obviously did not do your "homework". I was VERY vocal about the cost of supplies, even though it was probably the wrong setting to do it. So was Scott King and Fran Carpentier.

As far as why I went? When am I, a social network and charity founder/president, ever going to have the opportunity to discuss serious issues with executives of the largest meter/strip manufacturer in a setting condusive to honest and open communication, surrounded by 30 of my contemporaries as we all share different opinions---But ONE very REAL and attainable goal?

Maybe the reason you were not invited was that you are not influential...That actions speak louder than words, and that consistently bitching about an industry with zero attempt to come up with real solutions is recognized by the diabetes community as detrimental to the mission.

Have your opinion all you want. I don't honestly care what your opinion is of me, because I know why I went and what I wanted to accomplish. And I am 100% happy I went, because it was a beautiful event--not because of Roche but because of the chance to meet others.

Its funny....You blast us for going, but you are bitching that you didn't get invited? Sounds to me like the girl who doesn't have a date to the prom telling everyone its a waste of time and money, but secretly bougt the dress months ago.

You don't know me. Don't judge me. But thanks to this post, I can now judge you.

Christopher Thomas
Diabetic Rockstar Inc
Social Network, Charity.

George said...

I really think you should have been there. Roche didn't say much at all. We did almost all of the talking.

In fact, the biggest thing I got out of this is that, we as bloggers can change things. Now I may be one of the ones you think should not be there but if you have read even a HAND full of my pathetic posts, you will see I am rarely a feel good kind of guy.

Who feels good that has diabetes besides Halle Berry?

I never felt used. I never felt like a sell out. I am a guy who lost his house, has no money, and if the devil paid for a flight to see Scott Johnson, I would consider it.

call me what you will.

Jenny said...

One more point: if you read my post as written you will note that I did not say that Roche had succeeded in co-opting the "influential" bloggers. I cannot imagine that the Scott Strumellos of the world are going to stop pointing out truths in response to a plane ticket no matter who paid for it.

What I said was to WATCH and see if Roche's attempt to buy influence worked. For all I know, some of the bloggers there might seen the company response to their concerns as a wake up call to become more aggressive in pointing out meter company abuses.

The point is that this was an attempt to co-opt, and because of the intent, we need to gauge the result. Scott blogs about other companies whose attempts failed. So we need to see the impact of this kind of maneuver.

That's very different from the conclusion some of you are drawing about what I said.

Since some of the tirades in response to what I said appear to have gotten some of what I wrote backwards, I'd ask people to read again before attacking.

Anonymous said...

Jenny: I had to come back to issue a P.S. to echo what Katie S just said. And while you know I value you so much as a fellow T2, and I am disappointed that you weren't considered, I do value ALL of the other bloggers who were chosen.

Although my issues differ from T1s, and whose to say which are worse - not me - I have learned SO much from my T1 counterparts. I would never have learned that from Pharma or Med Prof.

I also need some feel good blogging on some days to get me through that typical T2 D-shame. It reminds me that I didn't bring on this condition, and it also reminds me that there are people, some little kids, who deal with this every day - it is their lot in life - they didn't ask for it either.

I do see your point about greasing the palms of those who attended - however, did you really expect that they would agree if they had to pay their own way and eat out of brown paper bags. It is the way of the corporate world, and while it may not seem up and up, it is the way marketers get ideas to be implemented.

I know you have strong opinions about medication and T2, and you and I have differed in the past, but we've done so egregiously.

I think the bigger idea here should be HOW and WHEN and WHERE we as ONE united D-community can come together and support each other.

I trusted all those who represented my voice, and yes, even one with only 38 subscriptions.

Everyone has a story, everyone matters in this fight, and we all should realize that about each other.

I hate to see some of the closest friends I know and respect fight over blog posts, TuDiabetes, and Twitter, and it only serves to hurt us.

I know that prominent D-folk understand my issues with guilt as a T2er, but I also understand you, Jenny, that you feel no one can represent you like you.

I want us all to continue to learn from each other, to try to tap into that from understanding one another's position.

I hope that's still possible.

Anonymous said...

I was invited. I didn't go because I had day job obligations and had already made my travel plans for BlogHer. I had my own reservations about Roche's intentions, about which I plan on blogging in the next couple days.

From all accounts, however, it was a decent meeting. I don't think anyone who went is always RAH RAH RAH - they tell it like it really is - perfection isn't always possible, especially for T1's. And hey, if they're bringing together a bunch of d-bloggers on THEIR DIME, more power to 'em.

Now that I know what it was truly like, I'm saddened I didn't go representing T2's.

Rachel said...

Wow I'm actually shock. I read your post and all I read is jealousy. Pure and simple jealousy!. I read some of these people's blog and I really enjoy them. They have been helpful and I have found support amongst them.

I can't believe that you would try to belittle them like that. Imply that these good people could be bought! Please.

This is the first time that I've read your blog.... and it will be the last.

I have my own blog where I discuss diabetes and the difficulties that I have trying to manage my son's diabetes. I do it to offer support and to get support and advice from other people. I don't do it in the hope that some company will invite me to a meeting.

But it sure sounds like that's the purpose of your blog.

Elizabeth Snouffer said...

Well... I have roughly 20 years of working in Pharma and specifically in global diabetes care for the likes of Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Glaxo etc. and so on. I know very intimately what kinds of conversations go on behind the closed doors of Big Pharma marketing.

It is really a difficult call here. And I think it is safe to say that Roche very smartly employed a transparent corporate relations strategy (they needed it!) and the DOC very smartly took advantage of the opportunity as means to stand united and talk about issues important to them.

No harm done. Here is the bigger question? Could the DOC have found an alternative means of meeting and invited a more comprehensive mix - thereby staging a real event that probably would have gotten press coverage.

Collaboration is key. Just take a look at what some of the other patient led groups are doing for breast cancer or AIDS. There are great role models out there.

The Wild Haggis said...

Company sponoured junkets are a great way to meet and greet the company reps and other like-minded people. What it also does is make me wonder if anything they say isn't tainted. What is funny about all this, is that the "29" either didn't know this, or just plain didn't care.

k2 said...

Just so it's crystal clear- I cannot be bought, and I absolutely find it offensive that you would even suggest that any of your fellow bloggers could be.

The wining and dining of which you speak, (and I’m lifting from Alison here,) consisted of dinner at Maggiano’s, a corporate breakfast and lunch, and airport port snacks.

EXCEPT for me, I stayed Thursday night (due to flight issue) and waited in line for a table for 1( btw) at the The Cheese Cake Factory. I bought myself a $13.00 salad & $6.00 glass of wine.

My glamorous airport breakfast of yogurt and coffee came to 7$ dollars in total. I also missed 3 days of work ( 2 being travel days) and have been catching up with work ever since. I'm not complaining, I was glad to be part of it- I'm just stating the facts.

And the fact is not one Blogger in attendance at the Summit held their tongues when it came to expressing the needs of patients. Did you actually read any of the posts that were written?

Because had you, you’d have realized that every Blogger in the room spoke about the cost of test strips, meters, and meter issues. Every single one of us there made sure we spoke about the cost of not just test strips, but other diabetes acquirement, including insulin, CGMS, and pumps.

Some were louder than others, (Chris, Fran, Gina) but all spoke their mind- BIG TIME.

Cost and necessity was brought up time and again for patients WITH, AND WITHOUT insurance.

We brought up the guilt associated with being a diabetic for both t1, t2 and everyone in between.

I don’t know if you read my post on the summit (from what I can surmise, you haven’t) – but I spoke and wrote about Diabetes guilt in GREAT detail. Like all of us, I know a lot about that.
I’ve had diabetes for 32 years.

I also have the unique & heartbreaking perspective of having helped my parents care for my older sister who died from diabetes complications at the ripe old age of 33. She suffered from heart attacks, strokes, & kidney failure, -and she also suffered from tremendous guilt.

I have another sister with t1, a father, a nephew, 2 aunts and a cousin who are or were t1.
Both my mother and her late Grandmother are t2.

I’ve battled WITH and FOR diabetics for 32 years.
For the past 3, I’ve been a Diabetes Advocate and have worked with countless Patient Groups and Diabetes Orgs and I’ve been Blogging for two.

Are many of my post “Feel Good?” YOU BET YOUR SWEET ASS THEY ARE ,and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

And just as many posts bring up the serious issues with the disease…and the many losses..

Do I focus on the positive? YES, but I also acknowledge the negative.

I’ll make it clear again- No one can buy me when it comes to diabetes-it’s taken to much from me- AND I believe everyone in the DOC will say the same thing.

Do some Patient Bloggers accept advertisers? YES, but the Diabetes BLoggers I know that have advertising also make it perfectly clear to the those looking to advertise that they have NO EDITORIAL CONTROL.

Was I proud to be asked? YES I WAS.

I don’t know how people were chosen to attend, but I do know there was NO solicitation to be picked, no money exchanged hands, and NOT ONE BLOGGER BACKED DOWN ON THEIR FELLINGS.

YES, many faces were missing, and that was brought up. Don’t bash your fellow bloggers because you weren’t asked to attend.

Instead of focusing about not being invited, why not take a step back and look that was accomplished. For the first time in history, Pharma took the opportunity 2 listen to what the Patient Blogger had to say.

Did those of us that were asked feel the guilt of being an attendee? YES, but you can be damn sure we spoke up loud and proud for our D counterparts that were not in the room because they were with us in spirit.

Kelly Kunik

Scott S said...

Wow ... this is a hornet's nest of activity! I am inclined to agree with Elisabeth Snouffer's comment that Roche very smartly employed a transparent corporate PR strategy and the DOC very smartly took advantage of the opportunity as means to stand united and talk about issues important to them. Will we get answers to these questions (namely the cost of testing supplies)? Probably not, but at least the issue was raised before people who now understand the issue in a way they had likely never heard before, so from that perspective, it was a success. I do think people can overreact to a headline, and the reality is that "influential bloggers" was, in this case, defined by Roche, but it is unfortunate that some people read your posting and assumed that you were implying they were bought. Regardless, I recommended Jenny Ruhl as one of the people who should definitely be invited to any future event, as did Manny Hernandez, so let's hope we can do something again very soon!

Jenny said...


Thanks for your balanced response.

I am starting to find it troubling how many participants don't seem to get that whether Roche paid for a cheap dinner or expensive dinner isn't the issue. Roche is far too sophisticated to utilize a blatant bribe.

And, of course, I know none of us does what we do, or spends the hours that we spend at it, because we are looking for a material reward. If we did, we'd be nuts.

But there's a reason Vermont is banning drug companies giving doctors even something as simple as a cheap pen. There is evidence that even the gift of a pen can subtly influence doctor's prescribing behavior. Drug and device companies are brilliant at influencing people in ways that don't look like bribes.

So I know that Roche is far too subtle to try to "buy" anyone who attended their conference. But they were looking for "influence" and to produce other, subtle impacts on the attendees. Their people in marketing spend hours in meetings where they are primed with the latest psychological research that teaches them how to influence people in subtle ways, like calling them "influential thought leaders." And giving them things they value like a chance to network with peers.

Were I invited, I doubt I would have gone, because I don't believe for a moment that I'm immune to the carefully concocted marketing schemes of best paid, highest skilled PR talent on the planet. Like all good salesmen, they can sell you without you even noticing you've been sold.

I would love to meet more active members of the online diabetes community. But I prefer doing it the way I have to date--sitting together, drinking coffee somewhere that is neutral turf.

And I have to say, I find it VERY hard to believe that Roche doesn't know exactly what is wrong with their blood sugar meters' woeful inaccuracy or their strips obscene markup.

My guess is that they get 100 calls a day about the former and hundreds of letters about the latter. The suave professionalism of the script with which they handled my complaint about dangerous meter inaccuracy made that very clear.

So while I hope that the dialog about the meters was productive, but given the efforts the meter companies are putting into defending the accuracy standards their flunkeys set, it isn't likely.

PJNOIR said...

My Accu-Chek Aviva meter really stinks. Which meter do you or anyone recommend?

ShottleBop said...

Well, Jenny, there is a whole community of folks at a couple of diabetes discussion fora who make it a habit, with newly-diagnosed folks, to point them to Blood Sugar 101 (as well as to Gretchen Becker's book, The First Year: Type 2 Diabetes, if they're type 2).

Kudos on the proposed Code of Ethics. I hope members of the blogging community elect to adhere to it, or something similar.

I appreciate your posting about the meeting with Roche, as well, because the responses have made me aware of other blogs I didn't know about, and intend to check in on.

P.S. My understanding is that Avivas do tend to read higher than other meters, which may make them more of a problem for someone having problems with hypos. My Avivas, unlike yours, however, have been very reliable, especially when checked against other brands. Maybe the percentage of lemons in these products runs high (although Roche's response to your issues is disturbing). I'd been hoping that Hemocue would come out with a home monitor for the US market, but they have informed me that they would not be doing so anytime soon.

Jenny said...


Thanks for the support!

Someone posted a comment on the post that follows this reporting an identical experience with Roche's customer service when reporting a way out of range reading.

My guess is that the Aviva strips are too fragile to withstand shipping or perhaps they don't do well in small towns where they sit on the shelves for a while. After my original problem, I got some vials of strips sent by Customer Service that seemed consistent, so I went and bought another month's worth, and they were bad again. They weren't the same lot as the first bad batch.

My pharmacist confirmed that I was not the only person having trouble with the Aviva strips.

RB said...

All I know is that Dr. Bernstein recommends this meter and it's the most accurate meter system I've used (and I've tried many different systems).

I like your site and all, but there's some virtue in being humble. Maybe you should try it.

Jenny said...


Dr. Bernstein lives in the NYC area and may not be running into the problems that those of us in smaller rural communities are reporting with the Aviva strips. It is possible they deteriorate while being shipped. The only strips I ever had for the Aviva that appeared reliable had been FedExed from the company Those mailed by the company were defective. The two orders I got from my pharmacy were defective. My pharmacist acknowleged there WAS a problem. The company denied it.

For what the strips cost, that kind of quality is not acceptable.

Bernard said...


I just stumbled across this post today. FWIW, which may not be much, going to Roche made me look at their meters. So I'm experimenting with them and will post reviews. So far I'm not impressed and I will be pointing that out.

The main reason I decided to go was because of the opportunity to meet fellow bloggers and strengthen our community.

I do not believe that attending has softened my attitude to pharma in general, and Roche in particular. I am all for building relationships if by doing that I can influence them to improve the design, usability and accuracy of the equipment that our lives depend on.

Re Aviva strips. I've not tried this meter yet. But I'm having a lot of success with reducing my A1C by my change to WaveSense meters. I attribute that directly to accuracy.

Jenny said...


I am constantly hearing from people who are begging for info about where they can find an accurate meter. It would be SO good to find one. OTOH, my insurer and many others don't reimburse for any brands save Accu-Chek and One Touch and even with their coverage the deductible is quite high.

What really torques me is I know the insurer isn't paying $107/100. In fact, based on their other payments I'd be surprised if they are paying more than $40-50 a box. Meanwhile the poorest and those most in need of meters are paying that $107 because they dont' have insurance or have medicare which isnt' allowed to negotiate prices.l (Thanks Bush Administration for THAT budget buster!)

Andreboco said...

Jenny, keep up you high standards and dont let em get you down. Thanx to you and Dr. Bernstein, I have round the clock normal bloodsugars, Type 1. I have respect for all who want to help other Diabetics with information to control their lives and blood sugars. I have the most respect for bloggers, like you, who get it right.