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[IP] LifeScan FastTake meter strips unavailable in Europe
Most glucose meters are marketed on both sides of the Atlantic. That's a
definite advantage to traveling diabetics that need supplies. It's a simple
matter, for example, for an American One Touch user to walk into a French
pharmacy and ask for "One Touche" strips. (The pronunciation changes, but
not the strip name or function.)
Not so for the FastTake meter. LifeScan decided to market it in Europe as
the EuroFlash. It's not only the name that changed, but also the test
strips. FastTake strips will not work in a EuroFlash and vice versa. The
change was not made for any medical or technical reason, but to isolate the
two markets to prevent American users from importing cheaper European test
strips. (They're slightly cheaper here due to state-imposed price controls.
If the prices don't meet state requirements, the strips can't be sold.)
LifeScan deserves a healthy profit and I'm *not* defending price controls.
But as a customer, I don't care about price controls. I most definitely DO
want to be able to travel without worrying about test strip availability.
I propose sending the following letter to LifeScan. I'd appreciate your
comments and, perhaps, even your support.
Your comments about the _text_ (i.e., say it this way, not that way) can be
sent to my e-mail address (email @ redacted). Please post all comments
about LifeScan's policy here to the list so that all of us may benefit.
[To the President of LifeScan:]
I am an American citizen residing in France. I have been diabetic for over
28 years, taking insulin for most of that time via MDI and recently via a
pump. I have used two LifeScan "Profile" glucose meters
for almost 5 years and have relied on them to provide accurate measurements
that have been invaluable in my efforts to maintain good blood sugar control.
I perform at least five blood sugar tests each day, waiting at least 30
seconds for each result. The waiting time totals over 16 hours annually. I
was relieved to learn of the availability of the "FastTake" meter in North
America with its 15-second waiting time, which would effectively
*eliminate* the time wasted while waiting for results.
It was therefore with some dismay that I learned from the French LifeScan
office that the FastTake is not marketed in France. Instead, a comparable
model, the "EuroFlash", is available here. However, the EuroFlash does not
use the same test strips as the FastTake. I was informed that the meters
were rendered incompatible to avoid a gray market in test strips, with
consumers on one continent purchasing strips from another to save money due
to price disparities that are the inevitable consequence of price controls.
I believe that LifeScan deserves a very healthy profit from the sale of its
products. However, the strategy adopted for the FastTake/EuroFlash is not
in the best interests of its customers for at least two reasons:
1. A FastTake/EuroFlash owner cannot travel from one continent to another
and be assured of finding replacement strips. With my Profile meter, I have
been able to travel to the U.S. and purchase strips when my voyage was
extended or when my strip supply was compromised due to lost luggage.
2. A European EuroFlash owner cannot rely on the much larger North American
diabetic population to help detect test strip anomalies caused by
manufacturing defects. Although uncommon, such anomalies have occurred with
"One Touch" strips used for the Profile meter. Since One Touch test strips
sold in Europe and North America originate at a common manufacturing site,
it was useful to be able to pool customer experiences on both continents to
avoid the purchase of suspect lots.
LifeScan has chosen to compartmentalize the North American and European
markets, which does not meet the needs of its customers. I look forward to
receiving a response from LifeScan, but acknowledge the generally
irreversible nature of such marketing decisions. I will take every
reasonable step to publicize the impact of your decisions on your diabetic
customers so that they may provide you with appropriate feedback and
consider competitive products.
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