Beware of the “Gray” Market for Blood Glucose Test Strips

You might have seen cheap looking signs at the side of the road advertising that they will buy your unused test strips.

There is actually a very lucrative cottage industry that buys unused test strips from people and turns around and sells them on the internet on sites such as Ebay, Craigslist and Amazon.

There are many people who have prescriptions for test strips that are covered by their insurance plan.  Instead of actually using them as they should, they turn them into cash by selling them on the grey market.

There’s nothing illegal with this and can save you a lot of money from buying the big brand name test strips at a retail drugstore.  But what is missing is the lack of control in the chain of distribution. Glucose test strips are temperature sensitive and usually must be stored between 45-85 degrees F.

I guess it’s tough to ever know for certain where your test strips have been even when bought through normal retail channels.  But with the grey market, the chances of them having been stored at inappropriate temperatures is probably a lot higher.

Sarah Clark-Lynn, an FDA spokesperson, notes that “it is critical that the strips are not expired and [are] stored correctly (as labeled) because if they have been stored incorrectly (e.g., at extreme temperatures) they could give inaccurate results.” Even if boxes are sealed and the strips unexpired, it’s virtually impossible to verify that gray-market strips have been stored correctly. In the FDA’s response to the ADA’s letter, the agency says it has needed to “intervene in certain operations over the past few years, especially when the test strip storage and handling practices … are less than ideal.” The FDA has taken action against companies selling strips that are expired, stored incorrectly, or counterfeit.

Here are some stories I found by doing a Google search.  Decide for yourself whether you are really getting a deal.


Blood money: Black, gray markets for diabetes test strips a big business

Growing diabetic population fuels a black market

Buyer Beware: Cut-Rate Test Strips for Sale

Diabetic Supplies: Finding Discounted Blood Glucose Test Strips