By Clay Wirestone
I can’t remember when I started using generic strips. It might have been when I was irritated by the results of my name-brand strips. Too often, the results came in inaccurately high or low. It might have been when my insurers refused to cover the number of strips I needed to accurately track my blood sugar levels.
Frankly, it might have been when my own curiosity got the better of me one day in the pharmacy and I plunked down the 20 bucks needed to buy an entirely new, store-branded meter. I then bought a small bottle of generic test strips. Why not? I might have wondered. Let’s see what this more affordable option can do.
I’m not sure which of these stories of true. I’m not sure which of these paths led me to generic test strips. But my journey — which I’m sure is not unique — had a happy outcome. The strips were excellent. The results tracked with my earlier meter, although there were fewer outrageously incorrect results. And no insurance company could deny my request to order more. I just had to put down the cash.
In a few paragraphs, you can see the appeal of generic meters and strips. Simplicity, convenience, and affordability. Who could resist?
What’s the difference?
Before going any farther, though, I should be sure to define what we’re talking about. The lines have blurred somewhat in recent years. When I write about generic strips and meters, I’m talking about the options sold mainly over the counter. They are often branded with the name of a drugstore, supermarket, or convenience store chain.
Name-brand strips and meters are sold over the counter these days as well. And some of the best-known brands have even introduced lower-cost versions of their meters and strips. These are appreciated, of course, but they’re not quite what we’re talking about here.
This is an area where your own keen eye makes a difference.
While it probably goes without saying, it’s important to understand that pharmacies and grocery store chains don’t manufacture their own meters. They make deals with manufacturers who do. You should study the meter’s packaging to find out which manufacturer made it. Depending on how many times you check your blood sugar each day, what’s an affordable price to pay for 50 test strips? How about 100? Do the math and figure it out.
Who makes them?
Again, Diabetes Health’s listing of blood glucose meters can serve as an invaluable resource. Find it online.
One of the biggest generic manufacturers listed are Trividia Health, which makes the True line of meters and strips. It has also created “private label” products for drug stores and other retailers over a quarter-century. You can learn more about the company and its product line at https://www.trividiahealth.com.
Another player in the field is ARKRAY, which makes the Glucocard line of meters, as well as its own private label varieties. Based in Japan, the company now has a global reach with its varieties of diabetic testing supplies. If you’re curious about what ARKRAY does, visit its U.S. website at
These are far from the only companies working in the generic blood sugar testing space, but they are two of the biggest. And given their contacts in the U.S. retail space, they’re also trusted and reliable.
That’s one of the hurdles, frankly, for people with diabetes trying these kinds of supplies. A name brand provides a kind of reassurance. It doesn’t matter if that reassurance is illusory (the least accurate results I ever received came from one of the big brand names in the field). It simply makes many people feel more confident.
That brings us back to the keen eye.
Don’t just use it when figuring out who manufactures the meter or test strips you buy. Use it when you’re trying out the meter and strips for the first time. Compare the results to some name-brand strips. Compare the results to one another. Get a feel for how the numbers come out, and how they make you feel.
Ultimately, you want an accurate way to check your blood sugar. But you also want to feel secure in your management. Without that security, you can’t enjoy the freedom that modern day diabetic control allows.