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Diabetes Developments - A blog on latest developments in diabetes by David Mendosa

Contour USB Meter

December 22nd, 2009 · 5 Comments

Until now, the improvements in the blood glucose meters that all of us who have diabetes use have been tiny steps forward. In the 40 years since the Ames Reflectance Meter — our first blood glucose meter — came on the market, these little changes have added up to much greater convenience. And now a new meter is here that takes us so much further that I’m having a hard time to decide which improvements I should write about.

Fittingly, this meter comes from Bayer Diabetes Care. Bayer is one of the four leading meter manufacturers in the United States (the others are LifeScan with its OneTouch meters, Roche with its Accu-Chek meters, and Abbott with its TheraSense meters). It’s fitting because a company that is now part of Bayer made the first meter.

Less fitting, I think, is the name of the new meter. Bayer calls it the Contour USB. The original Contour meter has been around for five years. While it was the first meter that we didn’t have to code its test strips, calling the new meter the Contour USB seemed to be rather ho-hum at first.

And after using the Contour USB for the first time today, it seems even more of a misnomer. This is a stunning meter.

Bayer’s New Contour USB Blood Glucose Meter

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Posted in: Diabetes Testing

Making Aviva Test Strips

July 31st, 2009 · 1 Comment

When Roche Diabetes Care invited 29 of us who write about diabetes to “Social Media Summit” last week, some of us had the opportunity to visit their factory in Indianapolis that produces Aviva test strips. I toured the factory with Bryan Langford, the director of the product supply team for Roche Diagnostics Operations.

The Accu-Chek Aviva is the only meter and strip combination manufactured in America. Roche makes the Aviva meter in Huntsville, Alabama. Roche built the Indianapolis plant a couple of years before the company launched the Aviva in July 2005.

The other meter that Roche currently markets here is the
Accu-Chek Compact Plus. Roche manufactures the test strips for that meter in Germany and manufactures the Accu-Chek Compact Plus meters in Ireland. [Read more →]


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Accurate Meters May Be Coming

July 19th, 2009 · No Comments

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is finally planning to require that our blood glucose meters will meet high standards of accuracy and precision.

Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the new head of the FDA, recently wrote the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, or AACE, that the agency is pressing the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, to set higher standards of accuracy and precision. “If the ISO standard for accuracy is not revised, the agency…may instead recognize other (higher) performance standards for SMBG [self monitoring blood glucose] devices for management of diabetes,” according to a letter and attachment that she sent to AACE President Dr. Jeffrey Garber, and past presidents Drs. Daniel Duick and Richard Hellman. Dr. Hamburg’s letter was a positive response to a formal request that the AACE made to the FDA in May.

Anyone who has ever tested his or her blood glucose for more than a month or so must be appalled at how inaccurate our blood glucose meters are. In the past ten years or so I must have written a dozen articles pointing out how bad they are.

The FDA didn’t tip its hand yet by putting in writing to the AACE just what new standards it plans to require. But the agency did drop a hint.

About half of the last 31 blood glucose meters that the FDA approved for sale in the U.S. would meet performance standards within 10 mg/dl, when reading should be less than 75 mg/dl, and withing 15 mg/dl, when the reading should be above 75 mg/dl, according to the attachment Dr. Hamburg sent Dr.Garber. The FDA recognizes that when our blood glucose levels are below 75 mg/dl, accuracy becomes even more important.

This morning’s New York Times reported this big news for all of us with diabetes. Even though I subscribe to the print edition, I was out hiking in the Rockies today and haven’t read the paper yet. Thanks to two of my favorite diabetes professionals, Certified Diabetes Educator Karen LaVine and Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, for emailing me the link to that article. This is such good news that I needed to write about it today.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.


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The Infinity Meter

July 5th, 2009 · 2 Comments

The price of blood glucose meters isn’t the problem. But the price of test strips sure can be.

The last time I looked, some of the leading manufacturers were charging us almost $1 per test strip. For those of us who don’t have health insurance and test a lot, that can get expensive pretty quick.

But now one of the most aggressive manufacturers has introduced a meter that uses even less expensive test strips than its previous best. It also has better specs.

The company is US Diagnostics Inc. in New York, N.Y. They call their new meter the Infinity, which I assume they mean to refer to quality and not price.

You may be able to get the meter at no cost, because meter manufacturers mostly work on the “freebie marketing” model where they give away one of their products to generate a continual market for another, generally disposable, item. A guy named King Gillette pioneered this approach to get us to buy his razor blades. [Read more →]


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The Glucocard 01-Mini Meter

July 1st, 2009 · No Comments

My new blood glucose meter is perfect for travelling or hiking. It’s small, fast, has a small sample size, and features pre- and post-meal flags. It’s easy to read and has auto coding of test strips. I can even personalize it with a choice of face plates.

At the recent convention of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists in Houston I saw this meter at the Arkray USA booth. It impressed me so much that I asked the company to send me one for review.

The Arkray name may not be familiar. But the company says that Arkray USA is the fifth largest blood glucose monitoring company in the world. Arkray USA in Edina, Minnesota, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkray Inc. of Kyoto, Japan. Arkray took over Hypoguard USA in 2006 and changed its name to Arkray USA. [Read more →]


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Our Arteries on Corn Flakes

June 28th, 2009 · No Comments

High glycemic foods make the major blood vessel of our upper arms swell out or expand from internal pressure, according to new research. This brachial artery is the most convenient place that scientists and doctors have to measure how elastic our arteries are.

The elasticity of our arteries anywhere in our body is a measure of our heart health. When the walls of an artery anywhere in our body expand suddenly, this can lead to heart disease or sudden death.

Those of us who have diabetes need to do what we can to keep our arteries healthy. The statistics are shocking: 68 percent of Americans 65 or older die from heart disease, and adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from a heart attack than other Americans. [Read more →]


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Posted in: Diabetes Complications, Diabetes Diet

My Neuropathy

June 22nd, 2009 · 20 Comments

A few days ago when I finally was able to see a neurologist for the headaches that started four months ago, the first part of his examination was of my feet. I had heard of referred pain, but this seemed extreme to me, and I told him so.

The doctor replied that he would get to my head. In the meanwhile he gave me a complete examination. He used a tuning fork, similar to what musicians use. I could feel it as he went down my legs. But when he got to each of my feet, I felt nothing.

Then he worked down my legs to my feet with the side of a pin. Again, my feet I had no sensation.

He told me that I had peripheral neuropathy. And I could see it for myself. None of my other doctors had ever told me that before. [Read more →]


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Posted in: Diabetes Complications

Why Glucose Tabs are Better

June 15th, 2009 · 2 Comments

This weekend my friend Mark and I drove about 120 miles from our homes in Boulder to Leadville in Central Colorado. Mark is a member of the diabetes support group that meets monthly at my apartment, and we are both avid hikers and nature photographers.

On Friday as we set off on the Turquoise Lake trail near Leadville, Mark checked his blood glucose. It was about 75 mg/dl so he ate a chocolate bar that he had in his pack.

“I figure that as long as I have to eat something to raise my level, I may as well eat something that tastes good,” he commented.

Maybe my body language showed my disagreement. So he asked me why I didn’t like his solution. [Read more →]


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Posted in: Diabetes Medication, Diabetes Testing

New Way to Control Glycemic Variability

June 10th, 2009 · 6 Comments

The A1C is certainly the gold standard to see how well we are controlling our diabetes. But even gold isn’t good enough for us.

The A1C doesn’t show our glycemic variability. For those of us who have our blood glucose levels under reasonably good control, our glycemic excursions are even more important than our average level.

A low A1C level can mask a lot of lows and highs. The experts call these hypos and hypers “glycemic variability” or “glycemic excursions.” Our level can be all over the place, while our A1C looks fine.
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A1CNow at Home

June 2nd, 2009 · 2 Comments

Today Bayer Diabetes Care launched the A1CNow SELFCHECK that we can use to check our A1C level at home. Finally.

Many of us have been waiting for years. In September 2006 I wrote here that we would have it “soon.” Then, a year ago at last year’s convention of the American Diabetes Association in San Francisco a Bayer spokesperson told me that next year they plan to sell it over-the-counter in three-packs. Now that the SELFCHECK is finally available online, the two-pack version is even better for us.

Until now, if you wanted to use the A1CNow, you had to buy the commercial version. The problem with that version is that we don’t need to use all of its 10 cartridges within their one-year expiration date. Since the A1C test measures our average blood glucose level over the previous two to three months, our doctors generally recommend two to four A1C tests each year.
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