Diabetes Testing

A Christmas Gift to People with Diabetes from Polymer

The best way that we have to check our A1C level will live after all. In September I reported here in “The Key Diabetes Test Bites the Dust” that Bayer Diabetes Care would stop making the A1CNow device at the end of this year.

At that time I asked a Bayer spokesperson whom I had known for years if Bayer might sell the facility that makes the A1CNow device to another company. “Our business plans are confidential,” she replied.

But yesterday, December 23, Polymer Technology Systems Inc. in Indianapolis, Indiana, announced that “it has acquired the A1CNow family of products from Bayer Diabetes Care.” The announcement was a brief, six-paragraph press release to PR Newswire, and I have not been able to reach anyone at Polymer.

I did reach Pharmacist Steve Freed today. He owns the A1CTest site, where for years I have bought my A1CNow+ units. Steve also heads Diabetes in Control, one of the most valuable diabetes websites and sponsors Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s monthly webcast.

Steve voiced some concerns. “There is no way they can start up and not miss a beat,” he told me. “I know that they let most, if not all, of their R&D people go, plus others.  So they are going to have to bring in some new people, which will take some time.”

For Polymer to get its A1CNow device certified will also take time. The NGSP (formerly the National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program) certified the A1CNow devices that Bayer made as having documented traceability to the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial reference method, which established relationships between A1C levels and risk for complications of diabetes. The DCCT method is the gold standard for reliable A1C testing. For more, please see my 2009 article here, “A1CNow at Home.”

Steve told me that his company has “at least two month’s worth of inventory.” However, for Polymer to get NGSP certification could take half a year or more.

I use an A1CNow+ unit that Bayer made for professionals to check my A1C level on the first day of every month. This is the same as the A1CNow SelfCheck that Bayer made for patients and sells in pharmacies, except the professional version includes 10 tests while the patient version includes two tests. I purchased the 10-pack kit (1 monitor and 10 test cartridges) from A1CTest for $129.00 plus $8.95 shipping and handling. That works out to $13.80 per test. Most pharmacies sell the A1CNow SelfCheck for about $30, which is $15 per test plus tax. If you test as often as I do, the A1CNow+ makes sense. Otherwise, the A1CNow SelfCheck is the way to go.

I expect that Polymer will be able to meet our needs for A1C testing at home. This is a small privately held company that until now has focused on home checking of cholesterol and triglycerides as well as blood glucose with its CardioChek meter. I reviewed this device here more than seven years ago at “Testing Cholesterol & Glucose in Diabetes.”

For Polymer the A1CNow seems like a good fit. I know that for those of us who have diabetes it is.

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