What happens when low quality diabetes test strips enter the market? They give inaccurate readings which can prove fatal to a diabetic who must monitor the amount of sugar in his blood and deliver a dose of insulin according to the reading.

Courtesy of the CDC

The FDA and Medicare have been accused of allowing cheap diabetes test strips to enter the marketplace.

Writing in Huffington Post, diabetes advocate Riva Greenberg accuses the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Medicare Competitive Bidding system of allowing cheap strips into the marketplace even though they give false glucose readings. Medicare has reportedly introduced competitive bids on test strips which accounts for the flood of overseas manufacturers to enter the market. Unfortunately, about one-fifth of those tested did not meet the minimal federal standard of U.S. manufacturers.

Diabetes Daily reports that there are no independent tests to confirm test strips meet minimum FDA standards after they are introduced in the U.S. and ultimately these low-cost manufacturers may end up squeezing U.S. manufacturers out of the market. How is money saved if patients are put in danger with a defective device? It is essential that this issue be addressed for the approximately 25 million Americans who are diabetics.

To improve this picture, the FDA needs to conduct regular testing of glucose test strips that are sold to consumers.

The FDA meanwhile does appear to be cracking down on mislabeled or fraudulent products that claim to safely and effective improve blood sugar levels. Consumers are being advised not to purchase “natural” diabetes products that can take the form of dietary supplements or herbs sold in retail stores or online without a prescription.

Only FDA-approved pharmaceuticals are allowed to make health claims.

While cinnamon has been shown to help regulate blood sugar, the main concern over relying on an unapproved medicine is that the ravages of diabetes can more quickly take hold. Serious symptoms like heart disease, blindness and kidney failure can occur much more quickly in patients with uncontrolled diabetes. There have been no injuries reported from these so-called diabetes products.

The FDA has sent warning letters to 15 companies to stop selling these diabetes treatments. Among the letters sent, was one to a company that allegedly sells cheap pharmaceuticals from named manufacturer online. This too is an area unregulated by the U.S. with about three percent of online pharmacies falling under any pharmacy laws.

The diabetes market is a lucrative one worth about $22 billion in sales last year, reports Yahoo News, so it’s no wonder that many are willing to jump on the diabetes products bandwagon, at least for a little while.