Millions of diabetes testing strips recalled

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration says Abbott Laboratories is recalling up to 359 million testing strips used by diabetics because they can give falsely low blood sugar readings.

The testing strips are used to help diabetes patients check their blood sugar levels. But the FDA says the products being recalled by Abbott can give inaccurately low measurements. As a result, patients may try to raise their blood sugar levels unnecessarily or fail to detect dangerously high blood sugar levels.

The FDA says the problems are caused by a defect that limits the amount of blood absorbed by each strip.

North Chicago-based Abbott is recalling 359 lots marketed under a half-dozen brand names, including: Precision Xceed Pro, Precision Xtra, Medisense Optium, Optium, OptiumEZ and ReliOn Ultima.

If consumers can not immediately get new test strips and have to continue using affected strips, they should check the amount of time it takes for their blood glucose meter to start the “countdown” after they first apply blood to the test strip. They should start timing immediately after blood first makes contact with the test strip. If the meter takes longer than five seconds to start the countdown, that test strip is affected and the result should not be used.

Users should check the time for each test strip they use because all of the strips in a package may not be affected to the same degree.

If any reading appears lower than they would expect or does not seem to correlate with the way they are feeling, the user should contact their health care provider immediately.

Symptoms of high blood sugar include excessive thirst, excessive urination, blurred vision, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. If a user is experiencing any of these symptoms or is not feeling well, they should contact their health care professional immediately.

Symptoms of low blood sugar may include trembling, excessive sweating, weakness, hunger, confusion, and headache. Some individuals may have no symptoms at all before they develop unconsciousness or seizures. It is important to treat low blood sugars promptly to avoid loss of consciousness or a seizure. If a user is unable to obtain unaffected strips, they should contact their health care provider for advice on how to treat these symptoms before they occur.

To determine if you have a product involved in the recall, call Abbott Diabetes Care customer service at 1-800-448-5234 (English) and 1-800-709-7010 (Spanish) to speak with a customer service representative.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)