Election Section

Diabetes monitor producer to pay $45 million to settle

The Associated Press
Wednesday November 28, 2001

SAN JOSE — A leading maker of diabetes monitors has agreed to pay $45 million to diabetics across the country to settle a class-action suit that alleged its products were dangerously defective. 

Lifescan Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement, which was reached Monday just before jury selection was about to begin. A federal judge indicated he likely will approve the settlement. 

The company, based in Milpitas, also had to pay $60 million last year after pleading guilty to charges it knew about two defects in its SureStep glucose meter but failed to disclose the problems before putting the device on the market in 1996. 

Federal investigators said one defect caused SureStep to sometimes display an error message instead of a warning that blood glucose levels were dangerously high.  

The other defect caused the meter to display readings that were well below the actual level. 

Court documents in last year’s case indicated that at least 61 customers became ill or had to be hospitalized. 

The suit settled this week applies to as many as 400,000 diabetics who bought SureStep meters before August 1997, when the company fixed the problem.