September 18, 2013

Generic test strips that work in Ultra meters. Get them before their maker is forced out of business!

UPDATE: May 12, 2014

The FDA issued a warning about Genstrips, telling people not to use them as they are not accurate and the company making them failed quality inspections.  Reviewers on Amazon also report that while the strips they purchased earlier worked well, as did mine, the newer ones did not. 


I learned about the generic One Touch Ultra strips sold as Genstrips in a tweet from diabetes business analyst Scott Strumello  (@sstrumello).  It turns out that the company that sells them came up with their own strip engineering design that works with the One Touch Ultra meters without violating Johnson & Johnson's patents.

The FDA required rigorous testing before allowing them to be sold, and they passed.

The company then made a deal with Walmart, which would have sold these cheap but effective strips to people all over the world who can't afford the obscene prices Johnson & Johnson charges for them. But Johnson & Johnson hit the company with expensive lawsuits intended to drive them out of business, even though the Patent Bureau has opined that these strips do not violate Johnson & Johnson's patents.

In the face of this legal pressure, Walmart bowed out, so for now the only place you can get them is on Amazon.

You can find the link to buy them here:

Genstrip Test Strips 50ct for Use with Onetouch® Ultra® Meters

Since Johnson & Johnson has vast financial resources they can continue to harass the company that makes Genstrips with lawsuits. The company is financially strapped without significant sales of its strips, and is likely to give up when the money runs out, even if it is in the right, legally. So it may be only a matter of time until the maker of Genstrips goes belly up and Johnson & Johnson is left to enjoy its monopoly.  Stockholders will applaud, and the only people who suffer are the 99% who can't afford to shell out hundreds every month to test their blood sugar, even when they need to.

For Use with Old Minis Only? 

The documentation with these strips says they should only be used with meters sold before 2010.  However, there is a comment on the Amazon page from someone who says this is not true.  My testing suggests they are correct.

Apparently the issue is that your meter has to be able to be set to match the code that comes on the vial of strips. All the brand name Ultra strips sold now are coded 25, so you don't ever have to change the code with a newer One Touch Ultra meters, and it is possible that some of them might not allow you to do this.

My Genstrip strips were coded 13, but both an old  Ultra Mini meter that was sent to me as a freebie when the Ultra Minis first came out and a brand new Ultra Mini I just bought allowed me to change the meter's code to match that of the strips.

If you are using another brand of Ultra meter, before you buy these strips, make sure your meter lets you change the code. And if you have gotten out of the habit of checking the code on your strips, remember to do it with these. If you don't set the code on your meter, the strips will give an inaccurate reading. 

My Tests So Far 
I bought a pack and tested them with both my original Mini, which I was sent as a freebie when the Ultra Minis were first released and with a brand new Mini which I received recently from my insurer.

I was not able to test the two Ultra Mini meters simultaneously as I only had one working battery, so there was a time lapse of about ten minutes between the tests of the two meters as I swapped out the battery from the new one to the old one.

I did run a test using the same drop of blood to compare the Genstrip in my brand new Mini with my Freestyle Lite. The Genstrip read 93, the Freestyle 95, and the Mini using the brand name strips read 99.  When I got the old Mini working, ten minutes later, it read 99, too.

The Genstrip strip took a fraction of a second longer to fill with blood than the brand name Ultra strip but my meter didn't seem to notice any difference between the two strips.

Given the general unreliability of all meters and strips, I came away feeling confident that the Gentest strips are good enough. I would just as soon buy these strips priced at $18.50 per 50 instead of the obscenely expensive brand name strips.

While they last, these strips might be a better choice than ordering name brand strips from no-name vendors who may sell you heat damaged or out-of-date strips that still cost more than these do.

By the way, if you are wondering what the best way to use your limited supply of any blood sugar test strip might be, please read this page:

How to Lower Your Blood Sugar.

It will teach you how to use the readings you get after meals to tweak your diet until you find one that gives you normal or near normal blood sugars. This approach has worked for thousands of people and it can work for you, too.

September 2, 2013

Onlgyza Appears to Raise Risk of Heart Failure

A two year long study of two DPP-4 inhibitors (one not available in the U.S.) found that these drugs did not, as hoped, lower the risk of heart attack in people with diabetes who took them, and they found a surprising increase in cases of heart failure among people taking Onglyza.

UPDATE 2-Doctors get good and bad safety news on diabetes drugs

The study also claimed to find no sign of pancreatic disease with Onglyza, but there are several reasons to discount this finding:

1.  The study only lasted 2 years, which is far too short a time for the changes in pancreatic architecture discovered by Dr. Butler to result in pancreatitis. (Details HERE)

2. Cancers also take much longer than 2 years to cause symptoms. Pancreatic cancer, in particular, is almost always symptom free until it is too late for any treatment to keep the patient from dying within a few months. The patients in Dr. Butler's study who took Januvia and died with small precancerous tumors in their pancreases and abnormal cells throughout the pancreatic tissue had no symptoms suggesting anything was wrong with them.

The British Medical Journal looked into this issue and found disturbing signs of suppression of evidence suggesting this is a very real problem: Their findings are discussed here: Medcscape: BMJ Digs Deep Into Incretins and Pancreatic Cancer Debate.

The actual BMJ review article is found here:

Has pancreatic damage from glucagon suppressing diabetes drugs been underplayed?

The chances are very good that it will take 10 years or more for the pancreatic tumors these drugs are capable of growing to cause the epidemic of cancer deaths that I fear is coming. By the time the deaths appear, it will be too late to do anything.

Please do not take or let anyone you love take any of the incretin drugs. There is a lot of money going into studies like this that are supposed to reassure patients and keep the money machine cranking for the companies that sell these highly profitable drugs. But there is enough evidence, despite the white washes that these drugs are dangerous that there is no reason to take any of them.

No matter how bad your blood sugar might be, a combination of  lower carb diet and, if needed insulin, properly dosed (which, alas, it often isn't) will lower your blood sugar far more safely.