Pelikan Sun

Patient Expert

Forget about alternative site testing. Because of its time lag, you can't rely on it at the most important times — when your levels are changing rapidly. Plus, most of us who have tried it found that we often get bruises on those alternative sites. Worse, sometimes we encounter a nerve ending that is more painful than any nerve ending on our fingertips.

And you better not hold your breath while you wait for the first non-invasive meter to appear. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued the first patent for a non-invasive blood glucose meter more than 30 years ago. Since then, hundreds of people all over the world have worked on what is looking more and more like an intractable problem. The industry experts I know are growing more and more discouraged that anyone will solve it in the near future.

There is just no place like our fingertips for rapid and accurate checking of our blood glucose levels. The best way to test our blood is still with a lancing device. I have used the Accu-Chek Multiclix ever since Roche introduced it about a year and a half ago. It's still the least painful device that you can buy in the U.S. for checking our blood glucose levels.

But it hurt enough when I tested with it that I wasn't testing often enough. I know enough about diabetes to feel guilty about that. But I am not alone.

Now, however, I check my blood glucose level several times a day. I'm especially interested in my fasting level because the dawn phenomenon hasn't gone away even though my last A1C has gone down to 6.0.

The difference is that I finally got a Pelikan Sun lancing device that I first wrote about in the March 2005 issue of Diabetes Health magazine. In fact, I have been trying to get one ever since I first heard about it more than four years ago. That's when Pelikan Technologies in Palo Alto, California, sent me the company's first press release on it.

A few months ago the company let me use one for a couple of hours. What a tease

The Pelikan Sun has an electronic drive mechanism known as "Smart Lancing." The electronic system quickly and precisely drives each lancet at an individually controlled speed to the exact intended depth while minimizing vibration. The electronic drive also precisely controls the braking and removal of the lancet to avoid the painful sudden stop felt in other devices. In my tests, the results were astounding.

I wrote at that time about my amazement that my blood glucose measurements were essentially painless. I barely felt the lancet and sometimes didn't feel it at all.

After that, the company asked me to write a "White Paper" about the Pelikan Sun. In March 2006 I wrote "Only Skin Deep: A White Paper on Modern Lancing Technology".

Last month Pelikan Technologies finally let me have my own Pelikan Sun. They gave me my own Pelikan Sun when I met with CEO Dirk Boecker and three other officers of the company on October 18 in Palo Alto.

For a few days I let my wife use it. She also has type 2 diabetes, but uses insulin, so she needs to test even more than I do. But I couldn't do without it, and took it back.

Ever since then I have been a happy tester. But not my wife.

"After using the Pelikan Sun, everything else seems barbaric," she told me.

The Pelikan Sun isn't available yet in the United States. It will be available in the second quarter of 2007, the company tells me. (UPDATE January 7, 2008: The Pelikan Sun is finally available in the U.S. and the price is a lot less: $199.)

But the company is test marketing it right now in Australia. So I did what a caring husband has to do and ordered one for my wife from Diabetes Australia New South Wales.

People in Australia can buy the Pelikan Sun for Australian $332.50. Diabetes Australia New South Wales will ship it anywhere for the equivalent of U.S. $253. With air freight charges the total price came to $297.30. I ordered it by sending an email message to Kerin McNamara.

That was the exchange rate on the day I ordered it. Pelikan Technologies has not yet set U.S. pricing, but it will certainly be close.

A lot of money? No. You just can't put a price on your pain. Or that of your spouse.