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Advances in Lancets

Sharper, Less Painful Lancets are Here and More are Coming

By David Mendosa

Last Update: July 19, 2003

Lancets much thinner, sharper, and less painful have just become available through retail stores. Made by the world’s premier manufacturer of quality lancets and syringes, Becton, Dickinson and Company in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, these BD Ultra-Fine 33 Lancets are sold “for use with BD Blood Glucose Monitoring Systems.”

“How about...

These monitoring systems are the BD Logic Blood Glucose Monitor and the BD Latitude Diabetes Management System. BD announced these meters and lancets in January for February or March availability as I reported in No other brand offers the same great combination of an ultra-small drop of blood— only 0.3µL (0.3 microliters)—and fast test time—just 5 seconds. However, retail availability of the meters and strips is still spotty as I write. Fortunately, the lancets are easier to get.

The BD representative for northern California, Lisa Travorrow, sent me a Logic meter, test strips, and Ultra-Fine 33 Lancets. She says that “with 33 gauge lancets their testing shows that pain from fingerstick testing is reduced 50 percent.”

I don’t know how anybody could measure the amount of pain with any degree of accuracy, but I can vouch that these lancets are indeed much less painful. I became an immediate convert.

Unfortunately, my health insurance doesn’t cover these strips and lancets. The reduction in pain was still worth it, so that I tried to get my diabetes supplier to get them for me. They couldn’t get the strips but succeeded in getting the lancets.

No problem. Even though BD implies that the lancets work only with BD meters, in fact they work well with meters like the One Touch UltraSmart, which I reviewed last month in and my diabetes supplier sends to me. The UltraSmart takes a 1µL (1 microliters) blood sample. The TheraSense FreeStyle meter is the only meter besides those made by BD that require just 0.3µL (0.3 microliters), and the new lancets should work great with that meter too. On the other hand, the meter than I previously used because my health insurance covers its strips, the Accu-Check Compact, requires a 3µL (3 microliter) blood sample, which is generally too much for the 33 gauge lancets.

BD says that its new meters and lancets are not yet FDA-approved for alternative site testing, like arms and legs. Because of fewer nerve endings there, alternative site testing can be essentially painless. Of course, just because it’s not approved doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t try. I did and found to my surprise that the 33 gauge lancets seldom got enough blood on the first try.

Another BD statement that I questioned was that the new lancets are for one-time use only. I have used them several times and don’t feel more pain. And even under magnification I don’t see the sort of bent tip that BD has made so famous in its ads warning against syringe reuse.

Pelikan Lancets

If 50 percent less pain is great, how about 50 percent less initial pain and 75 percent to 80 percent less residual pain? That’s the claim of Pelikan Technologies Inc. in Palo Alto, California, a privately-held start-up company that just got FDA approval for its first product, an electronically automated, self-contained lancing device called the Pelikan Sun.

Pelikan will introduce its new lancing device in June at the 63rd American Diabetes Association scientific sessions in New Orleans, Louisiana, and plans for the its commercial rollout in early 2004. While the company hasn’t set the price, CEO Dirk Boecker says that it will be “competitive to other products, given its features and benefits.” A company representative who contacted me says that I will be able to test it soon, and I will, of course, update this article at that time.

If you like the Ascensia Dex 2 Diabetes Care System because it lets you test your blood glucose 10 times without having to change the convenient test sensor cartridge or the Accu-Chek Compact, which enables test strips to be dispensed from a drum of 17 tests with a press of a button, think how much more convenient it would be to have sometime similar for lancets. That, in fact, is what the Pelikan Sun is—a disk containing 50 sterile lancets that you simply replace after 50 uses. You will never need to handle lancets again.

The company doesn’t say how big a drop of blood the lancets require. It will be a very small quantity, they say. And because the lancets use the first electronic lancing device, they will work very quickly and precisely.

All this is on the near horizon. Pelikan plans to follow up in 2005 with a blood glucose meter containing not only the lancets but also test strips and insulin vials. It will be, says CEO Boecker, “the ultimate glucose meter.” I’m keeping my fingers crossed, because that certainly sounds right to me. 

This article originally appeared on on April 27, 2003

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