Test Strip Supplier?

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RAS

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May 1, 2020
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Omaha, NE
I'm wondering if anyone on this forum has had problems obtaining Coaguchek INR test strips this year. Here is my situation.

I have a mechanical aortic valve and been on Warfarin for 14 years. I have done home testing for 13 years. My original meter was an INRATIO meter. That was taken off the market and I switched to Coaguchek. I purchased the meter from a medical supplier for about $600. I test weekly and do my own dosing and report the results to my physician via their portal. Test strips have been about $225 per year for the last few years.

I started looking for another 48 count box of test strips about 8 weeks ago. The supplier I used last few years is out of business. Other suppliers I have used or researched in the past no longer sell the strips to consumers. No pharmacies in my area sell them. Some do sell to medical professionals. I contacted Coaguchek patient services to ask them to sell me test strips. They refused and said they do not sell strips or meters to consumers and do not authorize any 3rd parties to do so. Their reason is that suppliers were selling recalled strips, so they discontinued all sales to consumer and only provide home testing via a service where they supply the meter, strips, supplies etc for a fee per test ($ depends on insurance).

So given that - I started the process to enroll. That was six weeks ago. No progress since then. Depending on which agent I get on the phone, the reason is "it's under review", "it's waiting for insurance", "it's back from insurance and waiting for review", etc. They also gave me the name and number of the person who is supposed to be my care coordinator. I all I get is a voice mail box and no returned calls when I leave a message.

Since I was running low on strips I went to an every 2 weeks test schedule to stretch out supply. I am now down to 1 strip left. I really want to avoid having to go to a clinic to get tested.

Any recommendations on where to get test strips or alternatively any Roche/Coaguchek reliable contacts you can provide so I can escalate or at least contact someone who can actually do something?
 

tom in MO

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I get mine from Edgepark the provider specified by my insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas City. They are not cheap, about $300 for 12, but I only pay 20%. Edgepark doesn't actually handle them, they are actually shipped by Allere but I order and get billed by EdgePark.

The reason they gave you regarding recalled strips is BS. They had restrictions on selling strips before the strip recall of a couple of years ago. I tried to buy strips directly and was told I couldn't, I contacted Roche and the FDA. The FDA said the strips can be sold to anyone with or w/o a prescription. It's a big scam. There is no reason to restrict the meters and strips, it's the warfarin that can kill you. Part of it is to perpetucate a monopoly and part of it is risk mitigation if senile patients screw up. I gave up the fight and use the company my insurance requires.

However, Edgepark is not an INR reporting service. I started with Allere's reporting service, but my insurance had a falling out with them and went to Edgepark, who doesn't do INR reporting. My insurance company doesn't care who manages my dosing, but requires a prescription to be written for the strips. The meter comes free, you pay for the strips.

I used to call my results in to the cardiologist's coumadin clinic, but after being free for years, they wanted to charge $30 per month so I stopped calling in. After about a 6 months, they called me up and told me I had to call in my results or the clinic wouldn't take me as a patient. I lodged a formal complaint with the practice and they told me the clinic wouldn't deal with me, and my cardiologist would have to handle me directly. Now my cardiologist lets me test and adjust on my own, but we had to have a separate in-office appointment to discuss what I'd do. I showed him my past adjustments of my dose and he was fine with me doing it on my own. His kid has diabetes and tests and adjusts dosage more than anyone on anticoagulation, and no clinic needs to be involved. He also said my adjustments were what he would have ordered anyway. Our deal now is I self test, self dose and will call in my results if they go haywire.
 

RAS

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Omaha, NE
Thanks for the info. I'll contact Edgepark. That price is steep though. I've never paid that much even for a box of 48. I have gone outside of insurance for the last 10 years because I was able to find a better price than when I went to the supplier specified by insurance, but we'll see how that goes now
 

Protimenow

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RAS: I've been buying my strips on eBay. There are a lot of sellers there, and many have expiration dates a year or more out. (There are others who have the nerve to sell expired strips). You can do much better than the $300 box of strips.

If you're looking for a short term (one month left) set of strips until you find a vendor who will sell the 24 or 48 that you really want, there's a vendor who is selling two 6-strip tubes of strips that expire at the end of May. The price is $9, including shipping. The seller ships very quickly. I don't know where you're located, but you might get these strips before you have to use your last strip. This may buy you some time, although you'll probably wind up at the end of the month with some unused strips.

As far as the 'recall' excuse, I think that most of the recalled strips have already expired - you are probably okay with any current strips you buy. If a distributor gives the recall as a reason that they can't sell strips to you, I agree with Tom - it's B.S.
 

dick0236

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Ebay is a good source if you do not want to go thru a service. If you are on Medicare, the INR service is an approved and covered plan. I am on medicare Advantage plan and my out-of-pocket cost is about $14 per month and I test weekly. If you are not on Medicare, some insurers "balk" at paying for this service. My service provider, Coaguchek Patient Services, was good at helping me get started a few years ago. 800-780-0675 or www.coagcheklink.com.
 
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DachsieMom

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I have had a great experience with Coaguchek. However, my employer changed insurers this year, and the switch was a total pain. Coaguchek does not charge as DME. They charge as provision of services. My new insurer could not understand and kept trying to argue it was DME, wanted all medical records etc (even though I have been home testing for 5 years), so the process took much longer. I had to elevate the issue to an HR leader in my company. I pay $101 every 4 tests (so, monthly). I will apparently have to go through this process every year.
 

RunMartin

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I live in the UK and bought my coaguchek meter a year ago as my old one broke down. I have just checked and I can buy the strips from them as well. I get my teststrips on prescription but I own my own meter. It must be a US issue. Could you order them from the UK?
 

Sheenas7

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Apr 22, 2014
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178
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Va, Fairfax County
I'm wondering if anyone on this forum has had problems obtaining Coaguchek INR test strips this year. Here is my situation.

I have a mechanical aortic valve and been on Warfarin for 14 years. I have done home testing for 13 years. My original meter was an INRATIO meter. That was taken off the market and I switched to Coaguchek. I purchased the meter from a medical supplier for about $600. I test weekly and do my own dosing and report the results to my physician via their portal. Test strips have been about $225 per year for the last few years.

I started looking for another 48 count box of test strips about 8 weeks ago. The supplier I used last few years is out of business. Other suppliers I have used or researched in the past no longer sell the strips to consumers. No pharmacies in my area sell them. Some do sell to medical professionals. I contacted Coaguchek patient services to ask them to sell me test strips. They refused and said they do not sell strips or meters to consumers and do not authorize any 3rd parties to do so. Their reason is that suppliers were selling recalled strips, so they discontinued all sales to consumer and only provide home testing via a service where they supply the meter, strips, supplies etc for a fee per test ($ depends on insurance).

So given that - I started the process to enroll. That was six weeks ago. No progress since then. Depending on which agent I get on the phone, the reason is "it's under review", "it's waiting for insurance", "it's back from insurance and waiting for review", etc. They also gave me the name and number of the person who is supposed to be my care coordinator. I all I get is a voice mail box and no returned calls when I leave a message.

Since I was running low on strips I went to an every 2 weeks test schedule to stretch out supply. I am now down to 1 strip left. I really want to avoid having to go to a clinic to get tested.

Any recommendations on where to get test strips or alternatively any Roche/Coaguchek reliable contacts you can provide so I can escalate or at least contact someone who can actually do something?
I just started with Coaguchek/Roche myself. It took a long time to get approved because of the Coronavirus, Roche said they couldn’t send a nurse to train me. Finally they agreed to have a nurse at my cardiologist’s office do it. Hope you can also work it out with them. They tell me that after I report 8 tests they will send new strings. I have only done 4 so far. Best of luck.
 

Sheenas7

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I just started with Coaguchek/Roche myself. It took a long time to get approved because of the Coronavirus, Roche said they couldn’t send a nurse to train me. Finally they agreed to have a nurse at my cardiologist’s office do it. Hope you can also work it out with them. They tell me that after I report 8 tests they will send new strips. I have only done 4 so far. Best of luck. Everyone here was so helpful getting me started.
 

jlcsn2015

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Sep 21, 2015
Messages
144
Location
Toronto
I normally buy them at the Pharmacy of any Hospital with Cardio services; but during current ccp-virus situation, have ordered from eBay, emailed back and forth with vendor before purchasing the box, and was told expire date was march-2021, which was good for me, paid via PayPal and all arrived fire; the good thing about eBay/PayPal is that "IF" you dont get what you bought, PayPal will 100% refund you; So , in current situation my plan is to "order" ahead of time just in case i get the wrong item, so i have time to place another order; and it looks like by "December-8th" the epidemic should be vanishing, although, will be around for a while, hopefuly CCP does not sent another virus in 2021; I guess the Made in China thing will be seen for wha it is, a mistake.
 

catwoman

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I buy my strips on eBay. Bought 2 boxes of 24s recently for about $250 total. Bought 1 box (exp. 4/2021, I think) and then saw a little better deal 2 weeks later on another with same exp. date so I bought that one, too.
I record my results in a notebook (have almost 17 years of results). I do not call in my results; I have taken my notebook to doctor appointments, but they have always just nodded without examining recent results. Notebook is huge and I have added articles pertaining to home-testing, self-management, protocols for various medical procedures, etc. I store algorithms on inside and back pockets.
 

gerrychuck

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Nov 17, 2012
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Moose Jaw, SK, Canada
Yup; eBay. Interestingly, one seller I've used a couple of times is in Germany, but I got the strips as quickly as if it had been a North American seller. I wind ip buying from different sellers almost every time. No problems so far.
 
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Protimenow

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DachsieMom -- $101 for Four $5 strips? Does this seller wear a black mask over its eyes?

You can do much better on eBay -- but check the dates on the strips before you order them. There is at least one seller there who is listing strips that expired a year ago, and is trying to charge more than some vendors charge for strips that expire a year from now. There is at least one vendor who listed strips that expired last month, thinking that people will buy them and change the clocks on their meters so that they can be used.

There's one seller who is selling two 6 strip tubes that expire at the end of May, for $9, including shipping. Sure, these will expire soon, but if you can get 4 or 5 tests out of them before they expire, this may buy you some time until you find a deal on more strips.

I keep my testing data on a spreadsheet, backing it up over an internet site, and on more than one drive. Doctors I've encountered were amazed that me, a mere mortal, can test and manage my INR. I suggest that you keep track - in a notebook or on a spreadsheet - information about your testing -- date, INR (I record prothrombin time, but it doesn't mean as much as INR), time of test, current dose of warfarin, and other comments.
 
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mina

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Jan 12, 2013
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US
I have had the same problem - US sources outside insurance have dried up. Here's part of a note I received from a vendor that cancelled my order recently:

Roche is doing everything they can to get you the home user into a more expensive monitoring service where they bill your insurance company/medicare. Coag-Sense is committed to having strips available for many years to come.

I found the candor refreshing, but of course I'm frustrated by this. Things like this are part of the drag on the US healthcare system.
 
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Protimenow

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Mina - that's interesting, but it reads like it was written by Coagusense - especially he part that says 'Coag-Sense is committed to having strips available for many years to come.'

I'm not shocked to read that Roche would prefer to use their expensive service (much of which is paid for by insurance, so the patient doesn't feel the sting of high pricing. Reminding the client to take a weekly test, then receiving a report from the client, and relaying it to an MD who probably also charges insurance to read it and advise the patient about any dosage changes is a much more profitable model than selling the strips to self-testers.

There are others, though, who get the strips -- clinics that use a lot of strips for patient testing, doctor's offices that regularly test patients, other facilities that use a lot of strips. THESE customers will have an uninterrupted availability of the strips. In this way, they may make their way into the grey market (and for sale on sites like eBay).

Lets hope that the supply of strips for home testers doesn't dry up. Lets hope that there's a working FDA that may be able to address the denial of strips for self testers as both restraint of trade, attempt to monopolize a market by reducing or limiting access to an essential component for use of their meters, and possible injury to self-testers who stop testing because of unavailability of testing supplies.

This might even devolve into a class action suit brought by self-testers who have been shut out of the market - and if Roche instructed the distributor to NOT sell to end users, this could, perhaps, be further evidence of restraint of trade.
 

Jim Palmer

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May 3, 2020
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Illinois
Good morning,
I've been checking my INR at home for 9 years and use the CoaguChek XS test unit. I order the strips from a supplier on Ebay and have had no problems. I've taken Warfarin now for 13 years and my PCP allows me to monitor and control my dosage as needed. I utilize a spread sheet and contact the clinic once a month with my INR results.

Hope this helps. :)



 

MdaPA

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Can someone share the name of the seller(s) on eBay they use for ordering test strips that have been reliable and trustworthy (i.e. received new/sealed boxes, expiry date matches that in the description)? Specifically looking for Coaguchek XS PT test strips.

Also, have there been times when the supply of test strips were low/hard to find on eBay (e.g. has COVID-19 limited supplies)?
 
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Protimenow

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A year or so ago, when Roche recalled some batches of strips, some eBay sellers were selling these recalled strips. Perhaps they didn't know that they were subject to recall. At least one seller tried to convince me that if I bought some recalled strips, all I would have to do is contact Roche with the information and Roche would replace the strips with good ones. I don't think that was the case - Roche probably would have asked who I bought them from, and may have refused to replace them.

I don't think many strip vendors on eBay are just out for your money. Before buying, you can check the seller ratings and read seller feedback.

You can also check that the seller will accept returns. The product photos may be old, so you can't always trust the dates on the boxes in the photo.

Many sellers list the expiration dates in the product listings. eBay has policies in place that you can use if you don't get what you ordered.
 
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MdaPA

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For those in the U.S., I found the below warning from the FDA re: purchasing test strips not authorized for sale in the U.S. It looks like this warning was released shortly after Roche recalled the CoaguChek XS test strips so perhaps this is related to that although the article doesn't mention it?

Nonetheless, how can one tell if test strips are not authorized for sale in the U.S. on eBay? Any thoughts or concerns?

Do not buy or use test strips that are not authorized for sale in the U.S. Look for signs that may indicate your test strips are not authorized for sale in the U.S., for example:
  • Test strips that are not authorized for sale in the U.S. are often sold through online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist, or directly from the seller.
  • If instructions are not in English or the strips look different than other strips from the same brand, this can be a sign of unsafe strips.
  • If you typically need a prescription (such as for test strips for use with warfarin INR meters), and the seller does not verify your prescription, beware. The seller could be selling test strips that are not authorized for sale in the U.S.
The FDA Warns Against Use of Test Strips Not Authorized for Sale in the United States
 

Protimenow

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Come on, Roche. Are we to believe that the strips that are sold in other countries are unsafe? Are you really selling defective strips to countries outside the United States?

Is it that dangerous to buy strips online from non-distributors of Roche strips? Do the strips bought online give false results? Would the experience of many on this forum - with reported results that are within 20% (usually much less) of the lab values mean that these strips are defective?

Recalled strips are no longer an issue. These have all expired. Most sellers of strips state the expiration date, and the unscrupulous sellers photograph the boxes, showing the actual expiration date (sometimes already expired).

---

I've bought my strips online (and a friend send me some of hers). I haven't had any problems, and the few times I had lab tests, the results were pretty close.

This Roche thing appears to be an attempt to:

Force self-testers to use services that provide the strips.

Make testers worry about getting prescriptions for strips and buying strips from a distributor.

Assure that we don't cut into their profits by buying online.

To protect their distributors by making it look important to buy ONLY from them.

To at least make it look like Roche is protecting its distributors by casting doubt on the strips sold online.

--

I don't worry about buying strips on eBay. I compare results to lab results - and to another meter.

The fact that they aren't 'approved' or are perhaps from another country (none of my strips have ever been from another country) haven't been an issue for me.
 
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