by Michael Freeman
From the Editor: Michael Freeman, president of the NFB's Diabetes Action Network, introduces in the following article the soon-to-be-released Count-A-Dose, a newly designed, simple, low-tech instrument that blind diabetics can use to measure and draw up their insulin accurately. The NFB's Independence Market expects to have a supply of this product for sale by late April. The Federation will sell the device for $40. President Freeman's comments on the function and history of the Count-A-Dose and some information from Diagnostic Devices Inc. (DDI), the manufacturer of the product, follow:
One of the questions most often asked by people new to diabetes and vision loss whose treatment plan includes insulin injections is whether and how they can continue to measure and inject their insulin accurately (see the December 2009 issue of the Braille Monitor). Many blind people, including me, successfully use insulin pens to do this. However, insulin pens are more expensive than insulin vials and syringes. Hence, for those who cannot afford health insurance or who cannot persuade their health insurance providers to cover the cost of insulin pens or who use unusual mixtures of insulins, insulin vials and syringes are still the best and most easily obtained option to draw up and inject insulin.
Until a couple of years ago, the most accurate device to measure and draw up insulin without sight was the Count-A-Dose, manufactured by MediCool of Torrance, California. Apparently the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to require more rigorous and stringent testing standards for the Count-A-Dose than were applied when it was initially introduced. While this decision made sense medically, the rumor-mill in the community of blind diabetics had it that MediCool did not wish to expend the effort and money to ensure that the Count-A-Dose met the more rigorous FDA standard. Whatever the truth of this rumor, MediCool announced that it would no longer manufacture the Count-A-Dose.
This left blind diabetics who wished to continue using syringes and vials of insulin few satisfactory alternatives other than to try to obtain one of the few remaining new Count-A-Dose devices; this was necessarily a surreptitious undertaking since medical devices cannot be marketed and sold in the U. S. without FDA approval.
Fortunately, Diagnostic Devices, Inc. (DDI), makers of the Prodigy Voice, the only fully accessible talking blood glucose meter on the U. S. market today, has decided to begin manufacture of the Count-A-Dose, now to be known as the Prodigy Count-A-Dose. It should be available some time in late April from the NFB Independence Market. The information I have received indicates that the price of the Prodigy Count-A-Dose will be comparable to that of the earlier version, made by MediCool. Blind diabetics who draw their insulin using vials and syringes will again be able to purchase and use the Count-A-Dose, the best device ever developed for this purpose.
Information from DDI about this newly designed product follows:
The Simple Way to Fill Insulin Syringes
The Prodigy® Count-A-Dose® is a simple way to fill insulin syringes safely and accurately with one or two bottles of insulin (any brand). The bottle holder is marked to identify bottles for easy mixing—one raised dot for the first bottle and two raised dots for the second bottle. With the click dial starting all the way down toward the raised minus (-) sign, the user simply moves the click dial the number of times, or clicks, per unit of insulin needed. Each click of the dial toward the plus sign (+) will draw one unit of insulin into the syringe.
• Easy to use
• Measure and mix two insulins at one time
• Lightweight; easy to carry everywhere
• Low-vision and blind friendly
• Safe and accurate
Fill Syringes with Independence
The Prodigy Count-A-Dose is a simple system to learn, is well adapted to the use of nonsighted alternative techniques, and allows a blind diabetic to measure from one to fifty units of insulin in single-unit increments. The Prodigy Count-A-Dose uses a BD (Becton Dickinson) lo-dose 50-unit (1/2 cc) insulin syringe or a Prodigy 50-unit (1/2 cc) syringe.