The smallest blood glucose meter can make the biggest splash. That was part of the strategy that the French multinational pharmaceutical company followed when it jumped into the U.S. meter market.
Sanofi’s headquarters are in Paris, and it is the third largest pharma company in the world. Its Lantus is the world’s number one selling insulin. But it hadn’t made blood glucose meters before.
When Sanofi decided to broaden its outreach to Americans who have diabetes it did something both smart and unusual. It forged an international partnership with two other top companies, one on America’s East Coast and another in Asia.
Sanofi itself is handling the sales and marketing of the iBGStar. But it turned to one of the best meter companies to design, develop, and manufacture the iBGStar.
AgaMatrix in Salem, New Hampshire, "invented" the iBGStar, according to the company’s website. Earlier, AgaMatrix invented some of the most accurate blood glucose meters that I have ever reviewed, including the WaveSense Jazz, which I wrote about here four years ago in "The Ultimate Meter." The new iBGStar builds on the accuracy technology that AgaMatrix has developed over the years.
The test strips come from i-SENS, Korea’s leader in blood glucose technology. In November 2010 I had the good fortune to visit the immaculate factory where they make blood glucose test strips and wrote about it at that time in "At Work in Korea."
On America’s West Coast a fourth company also plays a big role in making this meter possible. That company is new to diabetes, but is the largest publicly traded company in the world by market capitalization. The company is Apple, and the iBGStar connects to its iPhone and iPod touch devices. It is compatible with the iPhone4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch 4th generation, iPod touch 3rd generation, iPod touch 2nd generation. This is the first meter designed to directly connect to an iPhone or iPod touch.
The iBGStar that Sanofi sent me for review arrived yesterday. I am still amazed at its small size. While I have known for about a year that it was coming, I had imagined that it was as big as an iPhone or iPod touch, somehow clipping onto the back of one of these devices.
But the iBGStar also works as a stand-alone device in case you don’t want to carry your iPhone or iPod touch with you. Yes, it’s true that people do still sometimes walk around electronically naked, so to speak.
But when you connect the iBGStar to one of these devices you can use a free app, iBGStar Diabetes Manager. With it you can record, track, manage, and share your data wherever you are.
While not everyone has an iPhone or iPod touch yet, an awful lot of Americans do. Sanofi thinks that the number of potential users in the United States exceeds 1.6 million people with diabetes.
The Apple Store just began to sell the iBGStar. Including 50 test strips and 50 lancets, the price is $99.95 with free shipping. Walgreens sells it for $74.99 with free shipping, but its package includes only 10 test strips.
Walgreens sells vials of 50 BGStar Blood Glucose Test Strips for $64.99 with free shipping. But Sanofi has set up a Star Savings Card program where you can pay no more than $20 each time you buy test strips.
This is a stylish little meter, and I am hardly the only one who thinks that. The iBGStar is the most recent winner of the Red Dot design award.
"The design of the device’s housing," the award states, "with its curved contours and chrome finish, lends the meter a discreet and stylish look that follows the design vocabulary of current Apple devices - significantly departing from the look of a medical instrument."
With its new iBGStar meter Sanofi is sure to make a big splash in its entry into the diabetes device arena. In our pockets and hands this tiny meter can make as big a splash.**
David Mendosa is a journalist who learned in 1994 that he has type 2 diabetes, which he now writes about exclusively. He has written thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and publishes the monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, current A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 keep his diabetes in remission without any drugs. He can be found on Twitter @davidmendosa and on Facebook at David Mendosa.