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Can You Buy Insulin Over The Counter


What This Means For You

Verify: Can insulin be bought over the counter for a fraction of the prescription price?

If you rely on short-acting insulin to treat your diabetes, you can now get a low-cost option from Walmart.

There’s almost never a scenario where I could tell you that I thought was the best insulin for it was purely because they couldn’t afford it, Redmond says.

Still, insulin can be life or death, she adds. For those people, making sure they have access to brands like Walmarts ReliOn is essential.

Its a step in the right direction, Redmond says. Even though it’s not going to benefit all diabetics, it certainly could be a lifesaver for so many.


Walmart Announces Its Own Brand Of Low

Walmart Inc. will offer its own brand of analog insulin for people with diabetes, an effort to boost its pharmacy business and counter Amazon.com Inc.s recent push to sell more medications.

The worlds largest retailer will begin selling ReliOn NovoLog this week in its U.S. pharmacies with a prescription, Walmart said in a statement Tuesday. The medicine will cost between 58% and 75% less than the current cash price of branded insulin products for uninsured patients, Walmart said.

More than 3 million Walmart customers are diabetic, and the retailer already offers human insulin to them for about $25. But that type is inferior to analog insulin, a man-made variety thats designed to better mimic the bodys own blood-sugar production and regulation. While widely considered the preferred option, analog insulin is expensive, prompting pleas from patients and Congressional investigations to lower the cost of the lifesaving drug.

Diabetes is one of the most rapidly growing diseases in the country, Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president and head of Walmarts health and wellness business, said on a conference call. We know from our customers that cost is a major factor in how you manage health care.

The medicine is being manufactured by drugmaker Novo Nordisk A/S as part of a partnership than took 2 1/2 years to finalize. It can be used by those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.


How Do I Buy Insulin At Walmart

Youll have to go to a Walmart store and ask a pharmacist for a vial in order to purchase it. While its considered an over-the-counter medication now, its still managed very carefully by the pharmacy because it needs to be refrigerated and its still a high-value medication despite being only $25 per vial.

Read Also: Can Diabetics Eat Macaroni And Cheese

Traditional Insulins Are Cheaper Than Modern Insulins

Average retail prices of Novolin and Humulin have gone down, or held steady, while prices of modern rapid- and long-acting insulins continue to go up. On average, traditional insulins now cost less than half of what modern insulins cost.

Why? Traditional insulins have historically been cheaper than their newer competitors. Modern insulins offer better blood sugar control but are synthetic analogs of traditional insulins, which makes them more difficult to produce.

Additionally, when patents on Humulin and Novolin expired around 2000, manufacturers Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk had to test new pricing strategies to remain competitive.


In 2017, for example, Novo Nordisk partnered with CVS to offer Novolin at roughly 80% less than its list price. Both Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have also worked with Walmart to heavily discount Novolin and Humulin under Walmarts ReliOn line of insulin products.

Retail partnerships havent been their only strategy. Eli Lilly had been increasing prices for Humulin every 6 months until May 2017, when they decided to stop anymore increases. In fact, prices of traditional Humulin and Novolin insulins, their rapid-acting analogs , and their mixed products have not gone up since then.

and are currently the cheapest traditional insulins, with average unit prices of around $0.10.

One Quick Fix To Improve Insulin Access

Can You Buy Over The Counter Insulin?

Lately theres been more attention on the insulin pricing problem. Members of Congress have been pressuring drug companies and pharmacy benefit managers to bring insulin costs under control. Last Wednesday, the insurance behemoth Cigna, and its pharmacy benefit arm Express Scripts, announced a new program thatll cap the 30-day cost of insulin at $25. Thats a 40 percent reduction from the $41.50-per-month fee people with Express Scripts benefits were paying in 2018.

This week, Sanofi announced it will offer its insulin products at $99 per month for uninsured patients.


But like the Walmart option, these programs amount to Band-Aid solutions, said Elizabeth Pfiester, the founder and executive director of T1International.

With Walmart, patients are having to revert to an older insulin that can damage you, she said. Meanwhile, the Sanofi and Cigna programs can be shut down or rescinded at any time. Thats not any kind of assurance for patients.

Patients will not fall for these fake measures that do nothing to solve the crisis we are facing, she added.

Theres one way the insulin drug pricing problem could be fixed, however: lowering the price of insulin, said Yales Lipska. Ultimately, its the list price thats hurting patients. I keep going back to that: Just fix the list price.

Update, April 11: Weve updated the story with quotes from Novo Nordisk, who responded to our request for comment after the story first published.


Recommended Reading: What Is Normal A1c For Diabetic

Yes Otc Insulins Are Available But These Older

Jennifer Smith 0

We receive many questions about over-the-counter insulin, so we decided to ask certified diabetes educator Jennifer Smith of Integrated Diabetes Services about it. Heres her answer:

Today, most prescriptions for those using insulin cover the most up-to-date types of insulin basal insulins such as Lantus and Levemir, as well as rapid-acting insulins like Novolog, Humalog and Apidra.

Read Can I Use Insulin Past Its Expiration Date?


When you buy insulin over the counter , these brand-name insulins are not available.

ReliOn Brand of insulin at Walmart is available without prescription in some states. However, it includes very limited types of insulin. These are the older generation of insulins, including R insulin, also called Regular . These generic OTC insulins have a very different action profile than prescribed insulins. However, generic does not by any means indicate low quality.

Having an insulin back-up plan in case you find yourself with an outdated prescription or short on funds is important. It would be beneficial to discuss with a health care provider how to go about using these generic OTC insulins before you have to use them, however.

Read Why Walmart Insulins Arent the Answer to High Insulin Prices.

You Can Buy Insulin Without A Prescription But Should You

As anyone who needs insulin to treat diabetes can tell you, that usually means regular checkups at the doctors office to fine-tune the dosage, monitor blood-sugar levels and check for complications. But heres a little known fact: Some forms of insulin can be bought without a prescription.


Carmen Smith did that for six years when she didnt have health insurance, and didnt have a primary care doctor. She bought her insulin without a prescription at Wal-Mart.

Its not like we go in our trench coat and a top hat, saying, Uh I need the insulin,’ says Smith, who lives in Cleveland. The clerks usually dont know its a big secret. Theyll just go, Do we sell over-the-counter insulin?’

Once the pharmacist says yes, the clerk just goes to get it, Smith says. And you purchase it and go about your business.

But its still a pretty uncommon purchase.

Smith didnt learn from a doctor that she could buy insulin that way. In fact, many doctors dont know its possible. When she no longer had insurance to help pay for doctors appointments or medicine, Smith happened to ask at Wal-Mart if she could get vials of the medicine without a prescription. To figure out the dose, she just used the same amount a doctor had given her years before.


It was a way to survive, she says, but no way to live. It was horrible when she didnt get the size of the dose or the timing quite right.

Also Check: A1c For Type 1 Diabetes

Can You Buy Insulin Syringes Over The Counter

Having diabetes is something many of us cant avoid, especially when you are at the age of 40. In spite of the fact that recent research data shows that 1 in 430-530 at the age of 19 have type 1 diabetes.?

Having said that, its a completely controllable disease that would require nothing but proper medication and control on habit.

One crucial part of diabetes treatment is taking insulin regularly. But when it comes to purchasing insulin syringes, thats where some of us get confused about whether it would require a prescription or not. In case it does, we might not have it on hand. And in fact, it doesnt, hustling around for one is a complete waste of time.


To eradicate this particular confusion, weve come up with a complete discussion on can you buy insulin over the counter without a prescription?

Do you find the title interesting? Lets take a couple of minutes to break down the details-

Table of Content

  • 3 Summary Line
  • Why Its So Important To Consult Your Diabetes Care Team Before Taking Otc Insulin

    VERIFY: Can diabetics buy $25 ‘over-the-counter’ insulin at Walmart?

    If somebody is struggling with being able to afford their insulin, they definitely need to have a conversation with their provider as soon as possible because we would never want somebody to ration or do without their insulin, says Kellie Antinori-Lent, RN, CDE, a diabetes clinical nurse specialist at UPMC Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh. and president-elect of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

    Schedule a phone call or an appointment to discuss your concerns. She says drug makers also provide assistance programs for insulin. Not taking your prescribed dose of insulin can make you extremely ill, and people have gone to the hospital and even died, says Antinori-Lent.


    Antinori-Lent, who works in a hospital setting rather than an outpatient clinic, says that sometimes patients may take newer insulin in the hospital, but then find out at discharge that they cant afford it and they may need to switch to older insulin. Ideally, these discussions about cost can happen well before discharge so patients get the opportunity to learn how these insulins work and how to use them.

    Trujillo says: The most important thing is to be honest and upfront about your situation. I think we have a lot of patients who are rationing their insulin or not taking it as prescribed because of cost issues. One in four people with diabetes report having rationed or not used insulin because of cost, according to an article published in January 2019 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

    Also Check: Can Type 2 Diabetics Eat Bananas

    What Is A Prescription Death Line

    Come to know how long the prescription is accurate as for the controlled drug, the medication is valid for one year from the written date. For the control pills or drugs, it is only six months of validation. How can I buy needles and syringes over the counter? Like it, you also know about the role of prescription?

    Nj Made It Legal For Drug Users To Buy Syringes But Not Possess Them New Bill Could Fix This Legal Quandary

    New Jersey made it legal to buy syringes without a prescription, but people can still be arrested because possessing a syringe for drug use is still against the law.


    New Jersey was one of the last states to make it legal in 2012 for adults to buy syringes over the counter, a move to increase access to clean needles and discourage drug users from sharing or reusing needles. It was heralded as a way to slow the spread of HIV and other blood-borne illnesses, especially for those who dont live near a needle exchange which most New Jerseyans dont.

    But one of the original goals of the bill was never realized. Legislators removed a provision that would have repealed the law that makes it a disorderly persons offense to possess a syringe intended for drug use.

    Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.

    Recommended Reading: Why Do Type 2 Diabetics Lose Weight

    Uninsured And Need Insulin

    Learn how you can get affordable insulin without insurance coverage


    If you are uninsured or have recently lost your employee-based insurance, it might seem like your options for managing your diabetes are limited. Challenges with access and affordability can increase the chance that people will ration or skip doses of insulin, leading to many serious complications like diabetic ketoacidosis and visits to the emergency room. Everyone with diabetes should be able to afford insulin, regardless of whether they are covered by insurance.

    Though insulin prices have increased over the years, there many programs that can help people who dont have insurance get insulin and also save on costs as a side note, profitability of insulin has actually declined, as shown through rebates and subsidies. Assistance and cost-saving programs are offered by a range of organizations, including pharmaceutical companies and retail pharmacies. Since each program varies by cost, type of insulin offered, and duration of supply, its important to explore your options carefully. Weve organized details on various assistance programs and resources to help you navigate this.

    What are my options?

      Sanofi, Novo Nordisk, and Lilly have their own insulin savings programs for people. Sanofi and Novo Nordisk both cap a monthly supply of insulin at $99 , while Lilly has recently introduced a $35 cap in response to COVID-19.

        Same Insulin Different Prices No Wonder Healthcare Is So Expensive

        Yes, you can buy over

        Shopping around for the best price is an effort in futility and a lesson in upside-down logic. I can purchase my insulin over the counter at Wal-Mart for $25 a vial. Yet, when I go to other drugstores, Im in for some serious sticker shock. Costco charges about $100 for the same vial Ive seen prices as high as $128. Im glad Medicare picks up the price of my medications, but it is still troubling when I think the taxpayers are paying the outlandish prices for something I could have bought at Wal-Mart for $25. Taxpayers would get a tremendous break if the government organized its purchasing efforts and was charged the cheapest market price for the same product. To the editor: Thanks to David Lazarus for his coverage of this important topic. No rational human who relies on a medicine to stay alive would agree with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan about unleashing the power of choice as a way to keep costs down.Continue reading > >

        Syringes play an important role in the life of a diabetic patient. However, there are several syringes on the market for different purposes, and buying syringes for diabetes management can be a minefield.

        If its the first time youre buying syringes for diabetes management, then not knowing the right things to ask the pharmacist can be difficult.

        The following are things you should say to the pharmacist when buying syringes for Diabetes.

        Recommended Reading: Type 2 Diabetes Take Insulin

        Is Walmark Insulin A Good Option For You

        Considering that todays most modern insulin options cost at least $300 per vial, the affordability of Walmarts insulin is appealing. Unfortunately, the rigid schedule and limitations of these insulins truly make them a last resort option.

        They are especially challenging for younger children who have unpredictable eating habits and an inevitably lesser understanding of how important it is to eat a specific amount of food at a specific time of day.

        These insulins will help you stay alive if you truly cannot afford more modern insulin. If they are the only type of insulin you have access to, then yes, it is a good option for you.

        If you can get more modern insulin through your health insurance or one of the many financial assistance programs that exist today, youd be better off going that route.

        Sure, its nice that these older insulins are easily accessible but they are not the solution for a long, healthy, full life for a person with diabetes. They are the last resort.

        Fact : Diabetes Diagnosis Report Might Be Essential

        Its no denial that insulin is treated to the patient mostly for diabetes. There are some non-medical research purposes of using insulin as well, but thats not what we have to take into account.

        That being said, some of the states of the USA might ask for a diagnosis report of diabetes in order to purchase an insulin syringe over the counter. In case you are actually looking forward to treating a diabetes patient with three insulin and insulin syringe, that should not be a trouble for you.

        The two states that ask for such reports are- Maryland and Nevada. In case you live in any of these couples of states, keep the doctors diabetes report along with you. But remember that a diabetes report does not essentially have to be a prescription.

        Also Check: Sugars And Diabetes

        Why Are Canadian Drugs Cheaper

        Lexchin said Canadian drugs are cheaper because the government regulates the price of generic and brand-name medication . The prices of cheaper generic drugs , which account for most prescriptions, are set through deals with drug companies at the provincial and national levels.

        Getting To Know Insulin Syringes

        Over The Counter Insulin for $25

        As you know, insulin is needed to injected subcutaneously into a diabetes patient. And the injection must be between the muscle and skin layers.

        There are very few differences between a typical clinical syringe and an insulin syringe. But the most significant difference lies in the gauge of the width of it.

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