Test Strips to Monitor Blood Thinner Not Authorized for Sale

On February 1, 2019, the FDA warned patients and doctors that use at-home or in-the-office medical devices to monitor levels of the blood thinner warfarin that certain test strips used with the devices may provide inaccurate results and should not be relied upon to adjust the drug dosage.


Medical product distributor Terrific Care/Medex Supply LLC recalled certain Roche Diagnostics test strip lots used with CoaguChek test meter devices in January 2019. On February 1, 2019, the FDA classified this action as a Class I recall, which is the most serious type of recall. Class I recalls involve situations in which there is a reasonable probability that use of the product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.


This recall is related to the recall in November 2018 by Roche Diagnostics, the manufacturer of CoaguChek meters and test strips. The Roche recall involved more than 1.1 million packages of CoaguChek XS PT Test Strips that were distributed nationwide from January 12, 2018, to October 29, 2018.


The CoaguChek XS PT Test Strips announced in the Terrific Care/Medex Supply LLC recall were manufactured by Roche, but distributed by Terrific Care/Medex Supply and included catalog numbers that were not included in the Roche recall because these strips were not labeled or authorized for sale in the U.S. and were only distributed by Roche Diagnostics outside the country. Terrific Care/Medex Supply purchased the Roche test strips from an unknown source and imported and sold them in the U.S.


“Monitoring warfarin dosing is a critical part of using the drug properly to prevent and treat blood clots. Using faulty strips can lead to errors in medication dosage that could cause serious harm or death in some patients. That’s why it’s so concerning that this distributor continued to sell these test strips in the U.S. even though domestic sales had been stopped due to safety concerns. To reduce risks to patients, we’re warning health care providers and the public about the dangers associated with this product,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “Distributing products that are not labeled or authorized for sale in the United States raises significant concerns for us in view of the serious safety issues with these test strip devices, and our work on this matter is not finished. Our top priority is the immediate safety of patients, and we’re taking steps to ensure the products that this company distributed are removed from the market.”


The FDA warned patients and health care professionals that they should not rely on these test meter devices to monitor warfarin levels if using test strips affected by the recall. Instead, patients should have blood drawn from a vein and have their levels measured by a laboratory test or use an alternative meter device.


Millions of Americans take the blood thinner warfarin (also known by the brand names Coumadin and Jantoven) to prevent and treat blood clots. The drug may be prescribed for patients with certain types of irregular heartbeats, blood clots in the legs or lungs, or certain medical device implants such as artificial heart valves. Achieving the correct warfarin dosage is crucial and patients need regular monitoring to test how long it takes their blood to clot. The response is measured by a blood test to check the International Normalized Ratio (INR). This test can be performed by an accredited laboratory on blood drawn from a vein or with a fingerstick blood draw using an INR test meter at home or in a doctor’s office.


The FDA’s previous warning concerning the CoaguChek XS PT Test Strips was based on medical device reports submitted by Roche Diagnostics to the FDA indicating that the test strips may provide results that are higher than the actual INR. As a result of incorrect INR results, some patients may be prescribed an insufficient warfarin dose or instructed to interrupt warfarin use, which may increase the risk for dangerous blood clots.


Incorrect INR results are of particular concern for individuals at an increased risk of blood clots including those with mechanical heart valves, with atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) who are at a high risk of stroke, or those who had a recent blood clot. It is important to note that problems with the CoaguChek XS PT test strips are not likely to be evident to the patient.


The test strips are used with the CoaguChek XS plus, CoaguChek XS Pro, CoaguChek XS professional, CoaguChek XS PST, and CoaguChek Vantus test meter devices.


The FDA advised patients and health care providers who are using CoaguChek meters to immediately stop using test strips purchased from Terrific Care/Medex Supply and use an alternative test method.


See the Announcement


Medical Risk Law: Thicker Than Water: Liability When Blood Clots Cause Injury or Death


Medical Risk Law: Blood Draws, Testing, Transfusions: Venipuncture Injury, Inaccurate Results, Tainted Blood - The Liability Risks