The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued the following warning.

The FDA is aware that some sellers are marketing pre-owned or secondhand test strips to consumers. These are unused test strips previously owned by someone else.

These pre-owned strips may be sold at lower prices when compared to new strips. For instance, you may see flyers advertising cheap test strips in your neighborhood, or you may see sellers marketing cheap test strips online.

It is technically legal for people to resell their test strips. But the FDA does not recommend that you buy pre-owned test strips or that you resell your unused strips.

That’s because pre-owned strips can give incorrect results—and may not be safe to use with your device.

Here’s why:

  • Test strips should be properly stored to give accurate results. If you buy pre-owned strips, it is hard to know whether the strips were stored properly. Test strips also could be expired. A lack of proper storage or using expired strips could put you at risk for getting incorrect results from your glucose meter. And incorrect results can put you at risk for serious health complications—even death.
  • Test strip vials that have been opened by another person may have small amounts of blood on them, which can put you at risk for infection.
  • Pre-owned test strip vials may have been tampered with, which means that they may not be safe to use. (For instance, the expiration dates might have been changed or covered up.)
  • Pre-owned strips also may not have been cleared by the FDA for sale in the United States. (If instructions aren’t in English or the strips look different than other strips of the same brand, this can be a sign of unsafe strips.)

The bottom line? The FDA recommends that you buy unopened vials of glucose test strips designed for your meter—and that you do not buy pre-owned test strips.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you are not sure where to buy test strips for your glucose meter or if you cannot afford to buy the test strips recommended for use with your meter.