diabetic test strips

Is It Okay to Use Expired Diabetic Test Strips?

Have you ever thought about using expired diabetic test strips to save money? Read this article to find out whether or not it’s a good idea.

diabetic test strips
Bottle of Diabetes Indicator Strips For Blood Glucose Testing

Diabetic test strips can be expensive. Some of them range up to $2 a piece. And in a box of 50, that can really start to add up. It’s understandable that you’d want to be able to get the most for your money from that. It’s understandable that you’d want to be able to get the most for your money from that. That’s why it can be so frustrating when they reach their expiration date before you’re finished with them and you have to throw them away. When this happens, you’re probably wondering, “What’s the worst that will happen if I use these?”

Well, the conversation around expired test strips is actually very lively. Many people have an opinion on whether or not using expired test strips is the right thing to do. We’re here to give you all of the facts, so that you can form an opinion of your own

How do diabetic test strips work?

In order to understand whether or not you should be using an expired test strip, it can be useful to understand how they work. The basic explanation is this — a liquid-attracting layer moves your blood into the little window on the strip, which is known as the “chemistry strip.” This strip is made up of an enzyme and what’s known as a mediator. The enzyme attaches itself to the glucose in your blood and pulls off sugar electrons. The mediator then passes the enzyme through the circuit to get you your reading.

The enzyme is “living,” which is how a diabetic test strip is able to expire in the first place. Eventually, the enzyme will “die,” or break down. And then it will not be able to attach to the glucose in your blood or pull off the sugar electrons. But when exactly does this break down happen, you may be wondering. And more importantly, you still want the most important question answered:

Can my diabetic test strips be expired?

The short answer to this question is: Yes … sometimes. You see, while the expiration date is there for a reason, it is often not completely accurate. A strip that expires on Tuesday will not be perfectly fine Monday and then completely useless the next. Exactly when or how long after an expiration date you can use a diabetic test strip varies. Because each brand uses different enzymes, it will depend on what kind of diabetic test strip you’re using.

There is no hard and fast rule about this.

One study suggests that you can use expired test strips for up to a year after their marked expiration date. Others suggest six months, while still others suggest two years. The general consensus, however, is that you do have a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to using expired test strips. If your diabetic test strip expired just last week, you probably don’t have to rush out the door just to solve that problem. Hearing this might confuse you, however. If you hear people talking about this, it might raise some questions about the honesty of the companies that make these products.

That’s why we also want to answer the question:

Why are the expiration dates when they are?

Some wonder if the expiration dates are the company’s way of ripping them off. Are they simply trying to make more money by ensuring that people throw away their strips before they actually need to? While companies are indeed a business, there could be more to it than that. Taking it from the words of LifeScan, part of the company that makes OneTouch strips:

“It is not only in the best interest of the patient to have the longest possible product shelf life, but it also benefits the distributors of the product and the manufacturer of the test strips as well. Legally, the manufacturer must ensure the product performs as claimed in the labeling.”

What this basically means is that companies like this are legally obligated to err on the side of caution. If they move their expiration dates back, all it would take is one faulty test strip to land them in trouble. By making the expiration date perhaps a bit earlier than it necessarily needs to be, they’re protecting themselves from a lawsuit. Companies have a lot of reasons to make the expiration date come so soon. Not all of them are necessarily selfish. They just want to make sure that they can stand behind their product, especially since it’s so important.

So now that we’ve established all that, it’s time to answer:

What are the risks?

When you’re using diabetic test strips that are expired, what is the risk? Your reading may be inaccurate. As the enzyme in the strip breaks down, it is no longer able to perform as effectively as it should. As such, it will not be able to pull the sugar electrons from your blood in order to get the readings. If your reading is wildly inaccurate, you can wind up putting yourself in danger.

That’s why, when possible, you should avoid using expired test strips. While it may be okay to use them in a pinch or for a little while after expiration, you’re really just guessing. Your health is something you should be very careful with. As much as test strips are difficult to afford, a hospital trip is even more expensive.

Do you sell expired test strips?

As a business, we do want to give you the best possible product. So, we will only buy diabetic test strips with an expiration date at least six months from today. If you have strips you aren’t using that meet these requirements, however, feel free to sell them to us. And if you’re having trouble affording the expensive strips at the store, we’ll sell them to you at 75-80% below retail price.

And if your strips are close to or already expired, you’ll probably be alright using them for a little while, just do so with caution. And buy new ones as soon as you can — from us, if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative.