Buyer Beware When Purchasing Medical Test Strips

From the WebMD Archives

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 17, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Test strips help millions monitor their health at home, but people should avoid buying strips that are pre-owned or not approved for sale in the United States.

Using such strips could lead to incorrect test results that could put people at risk for serious problems and even death, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

What are some examples of how these strips are used? A person with diabetes would apply blood to a test strip to measure their blood sugar level, while patients taking the blood thinner warfarin would apply blood to a test strip to see how well the drug is working.

Test strips are also used at home to monitor cholesterol levels and pregnancy.

But not all test strips are created equal, the FDA noted.

Pre-owned test strips or test strips not authorized for sale in the United States may be sold online through Amazon, eBay and Craigslist, or directly from the seller, according to the FDA.

If you use test strips for at-home testing, don't buy or use previously owned test strips. There are a number of signs that may indicate your test strips are pre-owned, the agency said.

The packaging of the test strip may have been opened or the labels may have been removed. The test strips may have been taken from their original packaging and put in a different package or vial, according to the FDA.

The expiration dates on the package, box or vial may also appear scratched off or changed. The packaging may look pre-owned, discolored or otherwise used.

Be cautious if you typically need a prescription for test strips and the seller does not verify your prescription.

Buy only unopened vials of test strips designed for your test meter through a trusted source such as your local pharmacy or through the test strip manufacturer, the FDA said. If you're unsure about where to buy safe test strips, talk to your health care provider or pharmacist, the FDA advised.

If you can't afford test strips recommended for use with your meter, talk to your health care provider, pharmacist or the test strip maker about possible discounts.