High Cost of Test Strips

Amy Tenderich
By Amy Tenderich Latest Reply 2017-10-04 18:17:56 -0500
Started 2009-06-18 12:37:22 -0500

Hi All,

Can you believe that the markup on glucose test strips is roughly 900%?!

That's what I've learned from LA Times columnist David Lazarus, who wrote a Guest Post on DiabetesMine.com today: http://www.diabetesmine.com/2009/06/a-year-an...

When queried on the number, he tells me "That figure was from a column I wrote on the subject a year or so ago. Looks like it costs 10 cents or so to produce each strip. So at a retail price of $1, you have one of the biggest markups in the business world – especially for a product whose R&D costs were covered long ago."


53 replies

Anonymous 2016-04-14 04:38:41 -0500 Report

well seeing that the post was from 7 years ago. Actually, it costs MUCH more to produce a strip. Usually strips are composed of 3 different parts: Bottom, Top, and 2-sided tape. and of course, all those conductor and all that paints. AND enzymes. and to produce one, you need to produce roughly 500 of them. And to produce 500 of them, you need like…multiple different 100,000 dollars worth of machines. So no, production value is much much higher.

But i do agree that strips are still very expensive.

karlylsebynd 2011-02-07 11:59:13 -0600 Report

First, I have been reading about all the tricks and ways to get around the cost of medical supplies(test strips) for years. They work temporarily and periodically Secondly, It should be acknowledged that I have been dealing with type I for 44yrs and from about the age of 18 I began paying out of pocket for all my health care and still do. Employers and insurance avoid you like a plague. And plague it is. Thus, self employed. Otherwise, my thrust has been to stay physically active to offset complications. BUT, the bottom line is the best defense is plenty of money if used wisely. Don't have and can't get it, you suffer and die sooner. Survival of the fittest, Darwin was on the right track. Yet, in civilized society opportunistic/profiteers consume with wolfishness appetites. It may be said, that if it were not for the drug companies I would not be alive, but lets turn that around. In closing, Obama said it something like this. "If everyone in society were to obtain optimum health and well being ,just imagine what society could/would be". The health industry profiteers are surrounding us 360 degrees and their sole intent is to rob all that society should be. The cost of medical supplies (test strips) is parallel to war crimes and genocide and thus should be dealt with.
Opinions are common but not experienced and educated ones.

PS. Has anyone seen the ebay buyers/ bidders with feedback scores of 27,000 plus purchases or sales of test strips. Who are they? Are they devious or benefactors?

DJsMama 2009-11-03 08:30:48 -0600 Report

It is absolutely ridicules! We don't have insurance at all & have to buy three different kinds, for me, my son & my mother!

beadmom 2009-09-15 13:24:01 -0500 Report

OK.. so my insurance counts strips as medicine. My husbnad's insurance counts them as medical supplies. I have to pay the full price because they are not covered.

He has to pay 20% because medical supplies are 80/20 and they don't care how many you order…go figure.

Needless to say… we use the same brand of meter.


BeckyJ 2009-09-17 18:31:08 -0500 Report

Similar situation here. Medicaid only allows 3 test strips per day, needless to say I use more than that. My Mom and I both use the same meter since she can get 100 stips for $20 and fill as many times as needed. We are sharing until my Medicare kicks in, just been approved so I'm not sure how long it will take.

beadmom 2009-09-02 19:26:57 -0500 Report

I just found out my insurance will cover only certain meters and their strips. Of course this is NOT the one they gave me at the initial diagnosis so I got charged a bunch for that and now the strips are not covered. So… I have to get another one that is on the plan. Then they only cost $30 through my insurance instead of $50.

and I have to give up my friendly meter with the cute little flower cover. Humph.

What a joke.


MarleneM 2009-08-03 23:39:34 -0500 Report

I found some test strips at walmart for $20 for 50 strips and you had to purchase their meter for $8.97. When I told one of my friends this he said someone told him they werent any good.

pop2 2009-08-10 20:30:11 -0500 Report

I was about to check walmart ,because I test about 6 time a day due to a slideing scale I take a second insulin with my slow acting so if it gets to high after a meal i will take the fast acting which makes me test more due to low before bed time. I am kind of all over the place right now because I had an infection but I am working on it. the cost for my supply
of one touch could easy be $400 I cant afford that so Iam
trying to cut back on testing.I have bd machine now but those
strips are for box of 50 is $50.79. with out insurance no way.

superpaperdude 2009-08-11 00:52:47 -0500 Report

ive only been a diabetic for a week—-well ok i have probably been one for many months-was DIAGNOSED last wednesday—-but my father has been insulin dependent since 1985—and recently did a semi-scientific study on meter accuracy, as did i today——mine was like this—i got a free, top-of-the-line bayer tester from the hospital—-only got 10 strips and 10 needles for pricking—-i am on a sliding scale so i have to test often until i get my glucose level under control—-i work FOR walmart so i cannot afford a dollar a strip—so my mother-in-law bought me a reli-on at wally world—-i did several simultaneous tests using the same blood sample—the blood from one pricking—in both meters—each time, the reli-on scored exactly 10 points below the bayer—-to me that is an acceptable range—-talk to your doctor people, but i recommend using the walmart meter—for economy

shellyj 2009-08-31 21:53:52 -0500 Report

the only thing for me about the relion meter is it not here in canada it makes me so mad as we have walmart in canada I have talk to the company who makes the meters but they have no plans to bring them into canada what a rip off for us canadians

howdyjack 2009-07-17 01:40:30 -0500 Report

If your insurance does not play you can get the strips at low cost at http://www.internationaldrugmart.com/glucose-...

High quality only. I don't have insurance. I get from this place International Drug Mart. Cost effective.

pop2 2009-08-03 17:10:29 -0500 Report

I am not understanding how they charge so much and those strip do expire so what do they when they are close to expireing ,do they give them to people who need them they can't sale them when they are about to expire.Are they so
sinceless that they throw them away. they could have a sale , instead the machine accu-check
aviva can not use an expired strip on that date ,what a waste. you use a strip today out of the can one day past expire date you can't use it.

GoddessJen 2010-06-15 04:51:58 -0500 Report

If you have a machine this applies to, take the CHIP that identifies the lot # from a "current" bottle of strips and replace the one that is from the expired canister. Turns out the machine doesn't read an expiration date on the STRIPS themselves; it's the chip that comes with that can that's dated.

You wonder, "But will I get inaccurate results from using a different chip with the last batch of strips?" I can only tell you this worked me through 12 FREE boxes of strips from a drug study I was in that gave me more than I needed. It was the Director of the medical study lab herself who found this work-around and suggested it to me. She wasn't concerned, and after doing this with MANY "expired" boxes, I never had any odd test results that were out of what I'd have expected at that test time.

RoyW 2009-06-30 13:00:52 -0500 Report

Through my employer I have Blue Cross a 60/40 plan. I found a company that discounts my test strips. I am getting one touch strips for free. Message me for further information.

Mike Shaw
Mike Shaw 2009-07-04 16:34:11 -0500 Report

It is a shame. With insurance, I still have to pay a co pay of $35.00 for what ever amount I get (be it 100 a month or 150). Granted, this is okay, but my wife's grandparents have to buy additional strips every month. The are on Medicare/Medicaid and they are only allowed on canister of strips a month. Less than one strip a day? How can you manage diabetes with that? These companies should be very ashamed of their selves. Do you feel like you are taking advantaged of folks? GREEDY, GREEDY, GREEDY! 900% markup is absolutely ridiculous.

walshskis 2009-06-25 17:02:43 -0500 Report

Advocate redicode strips are only $ 0.40 at


don't require coding and use less blood than onetouch.

Mike Shaw
Mike Shaw 2009-07-04 16:37:51 -0500 Report

What bothers me the most is that some of these other strips are cheaper. Great, awesome, spectacular. Right? They often read higher than the one touch. The one toucv is designed to read 10 points lower than actual. The other guys will tend to read a little higher. One Touch has built this feature in (you can call and ask them). I would rather treat for a low, then treat for a high and be wrong. Just my opinion. Be careful out there.

walshskis 2009-10-28 20:11:24 -0500 Report

I believe the difference is whether they are presenting whole blood results or plasma results. Some meters provide the higher (plasma) results so they can be directly compared to lab test results. I think as long as you know which you're using (see the manual) you should be okay - as long as you don't switch back and forth. Plasma is usually 10-12% higher.

GabbyPA 2009-06-20 19:05:14 -0500 Report

I have a pretty basic meter and use the basic strips. They work for me, and if I have to give a little bigger sample, oh well. There is no way I could afford $1 per strip. I pay everything out of pocket. So I find Ebay to be my shop of choice. I just got 600 strips for .15 cents each. They are all good until 2010 and unopened. I know it is not the "right" way, but it is the only way we can afford them.

RD03875 2009-06-20 16:26:34 -0500 Report

I have no insurance so I have to pay every single penny for all my diabetic supplies and prescriptions.

mamaoak 2009-06-20 14:59:51 -0500 Report

yes these thing are outragious in price. i order mine in bulk it is a bit ceeper in despencing fees they charge aswell have good insurane as well. it costing mre 25.00 for three months supply. it cuts out the parmacey co pay of 30.00 a month.so iam saveings of 60 dollars this way.

Amy Tenderich
Amy Tenderich 2009-06-20 12:28:24 -0500 Report

The pharma companies say the high price has to do with the cost of gold, because they use gold in the making -- but I still think the mark-up is crazy-high...

elained 2009-07-20 14:12:48 -0500 Report

i order thru a ccs medical on ins ot medicaid they are free.

apanda 2009-09-02 19:52:02 -0500 Report

Amy, "they use gold in the making of strips"…
That is really interesting. I wonder how much gold could be in each strip??

beadmom 2009-09-03 11:28:54 -0500 Report

Wow… I hate to admit this but my strips go in a cup next to my bed. There's a bunch…I wonder if reclamation is possible.


BeckyJ 2009-09-09 17:01:50 -0500 Report

If they do I'll be in that line, just cleaned out my purse and found 97 old stips!!! Tells ya how often I clean my purse out huh? I also found 5 very old tubes of gluco tabs so gross they were practically just dust.

norris 2009-06-19 19:21:31 -0500 Report

And depending on how many times a day you have to test could run you a pretty penny.I wish it was something trhat we could do to lower the prices.

BeckyJ 2009-06-19 15:16:43 -0500 Report

I've really been struggling with this one lately myself. Medi-Kan Isurance covers 3 test strips a day (and that only becuase I'm on insulin…non-insulin diabetics are alloted 1 a day) and I have to test much more often of course since I am having a lot of control issues right now. Once I run out of the test strips they allot me I have to pay almost $1 a strip for the rest of my tests.CRAZY! An additional 3 stips a day x 30 days makes for $90 extra a month I have to pay out.

Carol11 2009-06-19 10:01:54 -0500 Report

I have wondered how much the d…d things cost. Now I know but I can't say I'm surprised at the mark-up!!!

lipsie 2009-06-19 06:34:29 -0500 Report

Ulgh! That's all I can say! This is sad! Thanks for the reading Amy, very interesting1 Sheila

John Crowley
John Crowley 2009-06-18 14:47:56 -0500 Report

That is so crazy! You would think that someone in this economy would figure out that you could capture half the market if you came out with a test strip for half the price. A lower margin but huge volume!

Maybe I need to go get a job with one of the big manufacturers. I'd be a marketing genius :-)

kdroberts 2009-06-18 19:48:44 -0500 Report

It may not be that easy!

You can buy test strips for less than half that price, Relion and EasyPro off the top of my head are about $20 for 50 strips. There are more, I just can't think of them. Trouble is, the meters are very, very basic, the strips are not covered by insurance and they usually need a larger blood sample than brand meters. They are a good choice if you pay 100% of your strip cost though. However, if you have insurance then the cost to you will likely be cheaper for the big brands, for instance I pay about $18 for 100 strips. So, insurance picks up the tab, I pay my $18 and get double the strips and the manufacturer makes out. The genius comes in by getting insurance companies to cover things!

Momto3 2009-06-18 20:12:57 -0500 Report

I think the genius thing would be to realize how many millions of people don't have insurance and need these products and find an easier way for people to get them!

John Crowley
John Crowley 2009-06-19 09:29:57 -0500 Report

I was mostly saying the marketing genius thing in jest.

I was aware that Relion offers a cheaper strip. I didn't realize that insurance doesn't cover that brand though. That's very interesting. That does explain why the big discrepancy in price.

kdroberts 2009-06-19 10:06:53 -0500 Report

It's funny, most things are covered under my insurance, even if it's non preferred and I have to pay $70/50% of the price. However, it specifically says that all relion products are not covered at all.

Maybe if people getting test strips via insurance coverage had to go directly through the strip manufacturer the insurance company could negotiate lower prices like they do with medical services. However, since the insurance pays a reseller who in turn pays the manufacturer it's impossible to do without penalizing the reseller.

What I would like to know is not so much how much the strips cost to manufacture but how much it actually costs the manufacturer to manufacture and distribute and how much the sell them to resellers for. My guess is that pharmacies an the like are not buying the strips for $10 per 100 and marking up the price to $100. All parties have to make money or they wouldn't bother making or distributing them and we would all be out of luck then. The distribution and amount of that money is the interesting part and what I would like to find out.

cakeybakes 2009-06-19 22:19:42 -0500 Report

Relion happens to be the Wal-Mart brand of test strips and a lot of big companies (insurance) don't like the fact that WM is underselling them. I'm not a huge fan of WM, but if I can get my Rx's cheaper, then that's where I'll go! (BTW, my insurance won't cover that brand, either.)

It's a shame that the drug companies make the preventative therapies so high in order to sell the bigger stuff when you get even sicker because you can't afford to take measures to PREVENT the worser from happening. They certainly are in it for the MONEY, aren't they?

lipsie 2009-06-20 07:53:20 -0500 Report

I here you on that, I mean not personally but for others…I really feel for those in this situation and it really pisses me off!! Good luck to all of you!!! Love yassssssssss Sheila

Carol11 2009-06-20 10:06:35 -0500 Report

I used to work retail and one day I checked the store's cost price for my strips (Freestlyle) and their mark-up was $7-8 on a box that sold for $72.90 (Cdn)

pop2 2009-06-20 11:41:15 -0500 Report

I wonder just what it will be like When insurance companys out price most of us because many jobs
have been lost, my old employer has raise rates and
medication has got 10 percent higher since last year.

jsthoffman 2009-07-01 06:36:05 -0500 Report

I find you can get a better price on test strips at www.healthwarehouse.com it is a Canadian Pharmacy. Acensia test strips are 50 for $25.00, also the price of insuline is Novoline R $30, Humalog is $40, and Lantus is $76. No precscription is required like here in the U.S. for Humalogn or Lantus.