Blood Glucose Meter

Getting ready to move to OmniPod and I have a few more questions for you wise folks!

(1) Are you using the OmniPod meter as your blood glucose meter? If not, why not? Are there any cons to using the Freestyle strips?
I've been using the Accuchek Compact for years and like not having to insert test strips. The strips that come with the OmniPod will cost me more out of pocket (with insurance) than the Accuchek strips but not alot more. On the other hand, not having to carry a separate meter would be a great convenience.

(2) If I use the Freestyle strips which would be sent to me through the 3rd party supplier, are these strips available through a regular pharmacy if I need to buy more than insurance provides?

(3) How do you dispose of your used pods?

Thanks guys!

(1) Are you using the OmniPod meter as your blood glucose meter? If not, why not? Are there any cons to using the Freestyle strips?

I stopped using the OmniPod PDM as my blood glucose meter when I was told, in no uncertain terms, by many who were experts in insulin pumps, that I must stop doing so. I'm not going to enter this debate - I was planning on using a separate blood glucose meter anyway. I use the FreeStyle Lite, which is tiny. I love the Lite test strips. Plus, because my personal computer is a Mac, I can upload the readings from my blood glucose meter into my iPhone via Glooko.

I have experienced no cons with the FreeStyle strips. I love the new strips very, very much.

When I heard about the announcement that the FDA cleared FreeStyle test strips for the PDM, I decided to continue using my FreeStyle Lite blood glucose meter.

Even with the OmniPod PDM, you'd have to insert strips. However, you are correct, you won't have to carry around a separate blood glucose meter. That said, the FreeStyle Lite is so tiny. On the other hand, if you use a PC rather than a Mac, then using your PDM as a blood glucose meter would make more sense since you can download the results.

(2) If I use the Freestyle strips which would be sent to me through the 3rd party supplier, are these strips available through a regular pharmacy if I need to buy more than insurance provides?

I do not know.

(3) How do you dispose of your used pods?

How I dispose of used OmniPods depends on where I am and my mood. If I'm out and I'm lazy, I just throw out all of my trash in the regular trash. However, if I'm in a slightly more conscientious mood, I'll wrap my used OmniPod and syringe in a few layers of paper towel and either dispose of it in the trashcan or put it in my murse to throw out at home.

At home, I throw everything in the regular trashcan.

(1) I use the Omnipod meter as my primary meter to save the extra step of entering the data from a separate meter.
Omnipod just sent out a note today on their podwatch email list indicating the new zipwick Freestyle strips from Abbott are now FDA approved in the UST200 PDM.

It is also on their web site here:

Some people have noticed that the new Freestyle zip wick strips read a little lower than the old Freestyle strips that Abbott stopped making.

(2) The Freestyle strips are widely available in pharmacies everywhere - including my local pharmacy and places like Walmart. I get them by mail via my mail pharmacy supplier (Medco last year, Caremark this year)

(3) Right now I am sending the pods back to Insulet for recycling. You send 50 at a time back in a mailer (which you pay a nominal fee for). The books says you can dispose of them via whatever procedure your municiplaity has for medical waste.
(In my area, this is by putting them in a plastic jar, putting the lid on, and putting in the trash). Since there are batteries in the pod, this may not be the most environmentally safe way.

Thanks so much for your comments. I did not realize that there had been an issue with the test strips and FDA approval when I asked the question. The information you've given me here helps greatly!

It was a temporary situation where Abbott changed the strips to a new design, and went through the paperwork to get their own meters approved for the updated strips. Insulet then had to go through the same process. There was a period of months when the old strip supply dried up and the new strips were not approved where "officially" the only solution was an external meter. Insulet started shipping external Freestyle meters with new orders. I expect that will end now.

The main issue you will find people complaining about is that the new strips seem to read about 10 points lower for some people. Some have tried using different codes in the meter to compensate this out. None of this is officially sanctioned :-). Recall also that ALL home meters are not that accurate (or precise).... as others have said the FDA allows +/- 20%. So... as with most things with diabetes, your mileage may vary. People tend to think that because the meter reads out 3 digits...that it is accurate to three digits. It ain't . 104 means you are somewhere in a range near 104, with some probability.

You can see this on the label for the strips....with a normal reference solution, any value between 83 and 125 is considered correct operation, where the mean value is 104.

1) I do not use my pod as my regular BG meter, mostly because it sems to wear out the batteries faster. I don't find it to be any less precise than my Accucheck. If I do multiple readings, say, for pre-breakfast, they will all be close to each other. They may not nessarily be the same as my Accuchek, but they will be within +/- 20%.

2) They are, but I don't get them through my pharmacy unless it's an absolute emergency. I use Freestyle strips for the Freestyle meter that came with the starter kit because my insurance does not allocate enough strips for my Accucheck. They do not even cover the Freestyle strips. However, when I do run out of my Accucheck strips, I purchase extra strips. It so happens that I can buy Freestyle strips for much cheaper than Accucheck strips through American Diabetes Wholesale. Anything I could purchase at a pharmace seems to te a lot cheaper through them.

3) No comment, but it generally involves a big carbboard box. Insulet has a program where they will recycle your pods, but it will actually cost you money.

We use the OmniPod with the Zipwik strips.

We make Christmas ornaments of used Pods. :)

I only use the pdm as my meter and have since starting a couple years ago. I know they weren't technically "approved" but they worked just fine and now they're "approved" so there you go. Why would I want to carry around yet another piece of equipment and then have to log it into my pdm?! I LOVE the strips, best Ive ever used. You can re-load if you don't get enough of a sample the first time and it takes next to nothing as far as a sample size to get a reading.
I am having a heck of a time finding a supplier for these strips, though. I have to go through a DME supplier and out of a half dozen or so places I have found one that supplies them. Don't know about a local pharmacy but it sounds like they might be easy to find, I would make some calls. Be sure to be clear about which strips that you need because there's always confusion; lites, classic, butterfly.... yeesh! Some carry one but not the others.
I forgot about the recycle so I usually just through them in the trash, same as I would my empty vial of insulin. Although I'm thinking maybe I should take out the batteries first.

  1. Yes, I use the omnipid pdm and I love the strips because they require so little blood.
  2. I think your question is if they arew available at pharmacies. In that case, yes; I have gotten strips at riteaid and cvs.
  3. I save them in a box for the enjoyment of seeing how many I’ve used.

1. I'm using the PDM as my primary glucose meter. I like how little blood it used and my insurance covers them through Edgepark so they come with my new supplies of pods.
2. I can't answer this one, I'm sorry.
3. Right now I'm keeping the old pods in a bag, we're going to take the batteries out and recycle them. But you are supposed to be able to just throw them in the trash.

I really like Omnipod. Good luck with everything!

1. I am delighted to be able to use the Omnipod PDM as my primary glucose meter. I do, however, carry a backup Freestyle Freedom meter with me because it uses the same newly approved strips. Some supplier sent it to me as a freebie. (I also carry an insulin pen and needles for backup.) When I was using an external meter because I couldn't get "approved" strips for a while I found it was really easy to forget to enter BGs into the PDM when I didn't require any action by the PDM, thus my records were not accurate. I tested the PDM and the FS Freedom side by side for a couple of days using the same "butterfly" strips and found that the PDM was usually a little lower ranging from 4-20 points but usually under 10 points. Note: I haven't seen any direction yet from Insulet about calibrating with the control solutions each new container of strips when you set the code. The new "butterfly strips" (not Lite strips about which I know nothing) carry 3 ranges of results, a low, a normal, a high. I think I'll clarify with Abbott what the deal on those ranges is. Insulet's official word about the FDA approval only came today (1-13-12) and that's one of the details I haven't seen addressed yet.
2- The Freestyle strips are readily available at many pharmacies.
3- I use the Pod disposal program because I'm a recycling queen and I don't want any of the battery stuff not being properly recycled. Yes, it costs me a little money and time but I believe in the principal of recycling.

Tip 1: Since the beginning of 2011 I have logged in a dedicated notebook the lot and serial number of every pod I've used along with the time I activated it, a number code where I placed it on my body, and a number that indicates a count up to 50 (to keep track of when I should send a "kit" in for recycling). I started on the Omnipod in October of 2008 and found this record very useful last year. (I also record in the same log when I place a new DexCom CGM sensor or restart a sensor and when I replace batteries.) I record when a pod doesn't "2 beep", won't prime, or occludes all of which I report to Insulet and they have replaced the offending pod at no charge. I also record whether there is a "kink" in the cannula when I remove the pod or blood or "fatty" appearing tissue in the cannula especially if I get an unexplained run of much higher BGs than I would expect. Sometimes, depending on the reference codes for the alarms Insulet wants the pod shipped back. They indicate that when you report it. They do not replace pods with kinks, blood, or "fatty" tissue or occlusions. I think I had a total of 8 of 133 pods I activated or tried to activate in 2011 (12 months) that were replaced by Insulet. They also replaced 3 PDMs. From October of 2008 to January of 2011 (30 months) they replaced 2 PDMs that had issues and I bought a third as an upgrade. I keep the original model around as a backup. I am not OCD about record keeping --I'd probably have better A1c's if I was, but I've never found a method of keeping records thorough enough to be truly useful. I did find this pod log (and CGM sensors and batteries easy to do and useful.)
Tip 2: If the pod doesn't "double beep" when you fill it, try to prime it anyway. Sometimes it still works. If it doesn't you haven't lost much because if you report it, Insulet will replace it.
Tip 3: On occasion, a pod will "squeal" when something goes awry between the PDM and the pod.. The suggestion they'll give you to quiet it is to straighten out a paperclip and stick it "into the manual alarm shut-off port on the top side of the pod. Move the paper clip back and forth until the alarm stops. My experience is that this procedure is often not altogether successful unless you manually continue to hold the paper clip in place. The 2d suggestion that tech support gave me was to throw it in a freezer. I have left pods in the freezer for weeks and still have it start to squeal once more when it warms up. If you can determine that Insulet does NOT want the pod back, I've found that a few firm taps on the pod with a hammer will stop the squeal permanently. If they do want it back, keep talking to Tech Support until you find something that works or they give you permission to hit it with the hammer (I have never been given that permission!).

TECH. SUPPORT IS WONDERFUL They are there 24 hours a day, always kind, understanding, patient and helpful even when you've been a bonehead and not read your manual thoroughly enough. I have been using insulin since September of 1966 and the Omnipod is the best tool I've ever had to administer deliver it. Now that I have it coupled with a CGM it's an even better combination. I was on a Disetronic Pump for 2 years with tubing and I hated it and gave it up to use Lantus and humalog.

I'm working on documenting the frequency with which I need to change pods and am going to try using Novolog which claims to have a longer reservoir life than the Apidra I've been using since 2008. Both Apidra and Humalog indicate that they should not be in a reservoir for longer than 48 hours but the Omnipod is programmed for 72 hours. Changing pods more often, as I might need to do because the BGs seem to go up quite frequently after the first 48 hours, is going to up the cost of using the Omnipod by as much as a 1/3. In 2011 I used 133 pods. Theoretically I should have used 120. Hopefully using Novolog might help with this problem.

So with all that said, I'll bid you all a good night.

Yes, I use the Omnipod as my meter- for the sheer convenience of not carrying anything else around. I am that person that never carried a purse until my diabetes, I like to travel light.

I used to use the accuchek - and LOVED the convenience of it! I had to switch when my insurance quit covering it, but would cover a different brand at 100%. (Oh the politics!) So when I switched to the pod, I didn't have to transition back to putting a strip in every test, I had already done that. My memory wants to tell me that the accu-chek was a quicker test in the long run, but my memory could have rose colored glasses....

If you do decide to get Freestyle strips, sign up for the freestyle promise program (free). They send you a card that takes an amount off the cost of the strips, even after insurance. I get mine at my local HyVee.

I recycle my used pods.

Good luck! And keep asking the questions!

Thanks HPNpilot, I'm not too concerned as long as it's within the 20%. I get that now with my Accuchek from one hand to the other. This explanation is really helpful.

Thanks FHS, I currently use Accuchek also. I was wondering about battery life of the PDM. I too end up buying strips online at ADW because of the darn insurance caps on strips. I checked prices at my local pharmacy this weekend and the Freestyle strips were about $5 more than the Accuchek so basically even. They are about the same price on ADW. However, I would have to get the Freestyle strips through the 3rd party supplier due to insurance and the cost through them is about $6/month - so again pretty close.

The batteries are what made me ask the question...although I've thrown batteries in the garbage too. Just wondered how others handle it. Thanks!

Thanks so much! Won't be long now!

Wow, thank you so much for the tips! I am printing this out for future reference. I keep a notebook currently to log my bg, carbs, insulin and sensor changes but will start a second for the "hardware". I share your dislike of tubing and that's the main reason I'm going with OmniPod. I've been MDI for most of 25 years so this is a big change for me although at least I'm used to the diabetes part. The Dexcom has helped me tremendously (user since September) so I'm looking forward to the benefits of using both together. Thanks again jla!

Thanks so much for the info on the promise program! I will definitely look into that.

Hi Lorraine, what are Zipwik strips? Is that a brand? Love the idea of the ornaments - so cute!

By the way, the Freestyle Promise program even works for mail order...they will send you a coupon that you can mail in with a receipt and they will send you a check. If you fill the strips at a pharmacy, they will take it off right there.