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February 10, 2003

Blood Tests and Insulin Injections

Question from Torrance, California, USA:

My eight year old cousin lives in the Philippines and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was two years and nine months old. Her parents want to purchase a GlucoWatch G2 Biographer in the USA so I called the company to inquire but was told the item is sold by prescription acquired through a licensed US physician only. Would you know of a way around this? Perhaps there is an organization that could provide a list of physicians licensed to practice both in the USA and in the Philippines. Could the family simply provide a copy of the child's complete medical file for study by a US physician, who could then issue a prescription?

Answer:

I think that your young cousin’s family should think twice about investing in a GlucoWatch. Certainly it is a remarkably engineered instrument and quite accurate enough for clinical use. It is however a device that is both expensive and quite demanding in that there still has to be a two hour equilibration period even with the Glucowatch II before each 12 hour assay period and also of course a finger stick to calibrate it. Whilst it may have a significant role in situations where it is important to monitor blood sugars often such as during illness or when defining nocturnal hypoglycemia. There are also some special disadvantages that might apply in the Philippines in that sweating invalidates the readings as do significant changes in ambient temperature such as might occur when going from an air conditioned house into the open air.

If the objective is to minimise finger sticks a good alternative might be to consider one of the almost painless alternate site meters that use a minute blood sample from the forearm.

DOB