Omnipod & Freestyle Users: Test Strips Recall!

1-recall-boxAttention fellow podders!! Abbott has issued a recall for its Freestyle test strips that are used with the Omnipod PDM. According to Abbott, the strips may be reading erroneously low blood sugars. You should contact Abbott to receive a new supply of 400 test strips.

But that’s not all: there is also a recall on the strips for the Freestyle Flash and Freestyle Blood Glucose meters. So, you know, that’s awesome. The only blood sugar meter from Abbott that works is the Freestyle Freedom glucose meter. So if you have that, you’re golden. If you’re like me, you’re SOL.

I called Abbott this afternoon before going to the pharmacy to pick up my new order of test strips, so I’m glad I heard about this before plopping down a bunch of money on test strips, what with it being the beginning of the year and my deductible not being met. I should be receiving the replacement strips in 3-5 days. I don’t have another Freestyle meter, so I’m going to go ahead and use the strips because from what I can tell, it has not been negatively affecting me.

My biggest beef with this recall is how the information was disseminated. This press release came out yesterday and I found out about it today. On top of that, do you know how I found out about it? Through an email from my fellow podder, Stacey, who emailed dozens of people on the system. Not a word from Insulet or Abbott yet. So what gives? This is a massive recall for people who use the Omnipod system, and yet Insulet is completely mum on the issue. Several people in the Omnipod Facebook forum report finding out about the recall through social media.

Social media is an excellent avenue for dispersing various bits of information and to stay in touch with the pulse of the community. But when it comes to a recall that affects the health of thousands of individuals, get your collective act together, Insulet and Abbott, and send out a proper email or make a phone call. You should know better.


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15 Responses to Omnipod & Freestyle Users: Test Strips Recall!

  1. I received the FedEx letter today, from Abbott regarding the recall on Freestyle test strips and to immediately call the 877 number. I tried several times throughout Monday to reach them, after 7 attempts and more than 30 minutes on hold each call, sometimes no hold music or information, just silence thinking the call dropped. I finally got through at 3:30 pm to someone live and another 25 minutes discussing the action plans. Make sure you have all of your information ready such as doctor name, address, phone, insurance and meter serials. They only offered to replace 400 of my 700 strips, the balance to be escalated. Overall, poor customer service performance and lack of clearly speaking on their end, sounds foreign. I would suggest calling and trying different prompts to get someone live. If you have a PDM, option 1 would not pick up no matter how long I waited, over 1 hour for one call until I pressed option 2. They did state the replacements will arrive Wednesday by close of day.

    • Yes, I’ve heard the customer service has gotten perpetually worse as more people are finding out about the recall. I can’t believe that it took them 3 business days after the recall was announced to inform customers. It’s really despicable. If it wasn’t for the partnership with the Insulet PDM, I would not use Abbott test strips. I certainly wouldn’t encourage people to use them if not on Omnipod.

  2. Cherrie says:

    I received my letter today then spent 90 minutes on hold only to speak with a clueless Abbott representative. She stated the problem occured because of the updates in the new PDM. I am concerned the “new test strips” will have problems. Can anyone suggest a truly reliable meter?

    • Accuchek is a fairly accurate meter, although almost all of them will have the 15-20% accuracy errors that plague all meters. I’m not sure why you would be concerned about new test strips though. I don’t think Abbott would willingly shell out all this money (they are losing thousands sending out 400 test strips to everyone) if they weren’t confident the test strips would at least be better. Although it will likely still have the same errors!

  3. Sue G says:

    My blood is boiling (sorry, poor choice of words). It infuriates me that I come home to a Fedex note on my door saying they attempted delivery but letter requires a signature. We work and go to school at my house!! I could see from the Fedex note that the letter was from Insulet so I’m thinking it’s a delivery of Pods. I call Insulet to follow up this morning and BY CHANCE I find out about the recall — today’s date is FEBRUARY 25th. The press release from Abbott is dated FEBRUARY 19. So for nearly a week, my daughter has been using bad strips. I’m speechless. It’s bad enough that OmniPod users are roped into using only one kind of (apparently inferior) strip. On top if it, FreeStyle strips are 5 times more expensive for us than One Touch Ultras (a fact we discovered after signing on the dotted line for the OmniPod). Abbott, get it together…Insulet, you better rethink your partnerships.

  4. Scot Colford says:

    I just got my letter today since I missed the FedEx driver yesterday. And I’m on hold. It’s only been 40 minutes now, so I guess I won’t be getting up to go to the bathroom anytime soon.

    Not cool, Abbott. Not cool.

    Did I mention I just picked up 250 Freestyle strips from the pharmacy *yesterday*?

    So, can someone tell me … what are the new strips? Just a new batch of Freestyle strips that don’t have whatever flaw existing strips have? Or are they some other kind of strip? I kind of expected to see on Abbott’s site a list of lot numbers affected, so in absence of that, I can only assume it’s a fundamental flaw in the strips as they’ve always been produced.

    • The reason there are no lot numbers listed is because ALL the current strips have this problem. I believe Abbott has designed entirely new strips that are under the same brand name, but they are designed differently and won’t produce the same error that the current strips have. I would assume all the strips moving forward would be these new strips. I don’t think they would spend the money to replace strips if they were just as flawed. That would be a huge waste of money.

  5. Scot Colford says:

    So, from what I can gather, the strips as produced to date are susceptible to “noise” that can interfere with the readings in most older glucometers. The Freestyle Freedom, however, can filter out this noise and interpret the reading correctly. For OmniPod users, they don’t have the option of replacing the glucometer, so we’re getting new, better-made strips. But folks with the older, now-incompatible glucometers are getting Freestyle Freedom glucometers to use instead.

    So this sounds like they aren’t going to pull existing stocks of strips off pharmacy shelves, since the majority of users will still be able to use them with their new meters. And it sounds like the most sensible option is to have Abbott supply the strips for my OmniPod directly, to guarantee I only get new strips.

    Are you coming to this same conclusion?

    • I don’t know if they are making new strips for Omnipod. That seems kinda silly. It would make more sense to create a test strip that works for both the Omnipod and any new meter that’s created.

      • Scot Colford says:

        Oh, they are doing that, no doubt. However, they also appear to be minimizing their losses by replacing meters. That allows them the ability to let the existing stock sell down. It would be much more expensive to replace everything that’s on pharmacy shelves at the moment. So, it appears to me that it’s going to be confusing knowing what’s new and what’s old. I’d rather be sure to get new strips directly from Abbott than to double-check expiration dates (i.e., must be after Aug 2015) on every box I pick up from the pharmacy.

      • @Scot: sorry, won’t let me respond again. Wouldn’t the new Omnipod strips also work for any Freestyle meter? That’s why you have to pay attention to the expiration date, because some would work for Omnipod meters and some wouldn’t. But that wouldn’t mean that Freestyle users couldn’t use them. So these aren’t “special” strips, they would just be the new strips moving forward. Otherwise you’d have to continue making 2 separate batches.

    • I see what you’re saying and yes, I’d agree, it is confusing about how to tell what strips will be new, in order to make sure that we don’t accidentally use old strips. But using the expiration date might be the only way to know for sure what is “new and safe” versus “old and unsafe.”

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  7. Debbie says:

    I am an omnipod user in Nova Scotia. I just received my letter 2 days ago (March 11). I called Abbott immediately and was told I would get the new strips yesterday. Apparently they have been mailed from Indiana,US. My second call to Abbott was a disaster. These people have no clue what each other are doing and she didn’t even answer my questions correctly. I’m infuriated with Abbott and Omnipod. I told the agent that they better be ready for a court battle if something happens. Do anyone know of a Facebook profile with Omnipod users ?

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