Canada (Quebec) Shuts Down Insulin Sales to US Residents

I’m asking on other platforms if anyone else has experienced this.

I’ll report back if I get a response.

@Scott_Eric I’m not saying anything about the actual cost of making the insulin. I’m saying in the US they charge high prices and rake in lots of money. Now with the Flack over that they are having to decide whether to lower it or “generic” versions.

So lowering the price by half (which is what I’ve heard) is still now way over the cost it was years ago, so it appeases politicians that they have done something. But if someone points out, hey they still are charging only $30 in Canada and $150 here, then they might not settle for that lowering of price being okay?

But if they say see we have to charge $100 to Canada so that $150 doesn’t seem so bad? Hence possible raising of prices to Canada.

Someone might try contacting the office of Senator Bernie Sanders, who participated in one of those caravans.

What could that possibly accomplish? Senator Sanders is trying to bring financial relief to US residents by fixing our screwed up drug pricing structure. Canada pricing is fine, actually it is so good that individuals such as myself and caravans are willing and able to travel to Canada to purchase insulin there. I was planning to go this Monday. The problem is not the ability or the will of US residents to purchase insulin in Canada, the problem is that Canada is no longer allowing pharmacies to accept large walk in orders from US residents. I really don’t think you can begin to ask Senator Sanders to fix this Canadian issue when we can’t even fix our own in this country.

So what I’m hearing is that the Canadian Parliament is just getting back into session and no new laws have been passed since the election in October.

I wonder if you’re caught in a bit of a Catch-22 because they have your US address … OTC purchasers won’t be affected.

Yes, you are absolutely correct. I can drive 2 1/2 hours to Canada and pick up a box of Humalog cartridges or pens no sweat, no questions asked OTC. The issue is that I usually purchase 8-10 boxes at a time to make the trip financially worthwhile. No pharmacy that I know of carries that much stock in Canada. In the past they have just ordered it from their wholesaler and I picked it up and brought it back legally into the US showing my US prescription at US customs if asked for. No pharmacy in Canada that I know of will order that much insulin for you to pick up at a retail location without an address and phone number. Once they have your US address/phone number on file, you are currently screwed. Sort of like in the US, you can order a pizza and usually they just give you a number for pickup. You order 30 pizzas and they will want at least a phone number to make sure the order is not bogus sticking them with 30 pizzas.

If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. If you lived in Canada, you would just go to the pharmacy and buy 1 or 2 boxes as needed as it would be a short trip to the pharmacy. Coming from the US, the trip to pharmacy is not so short.

Since all pharmacies are giving me the exact same story, if you have time, you may want to contact any chain pharmacy in Canada and ask if they could send you a copy of the new law.

If no new laws have been passed in Canada, then I suspect it is the pharmaceuticals putting pressure on pharmacies by threatening to cut off their supplies. Distributors possibly? Something like that.

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Ya, we can waste a lot of time speculating but it really does not matter what is the real reason or excuse as the bottom line is that we can’t go up to Canada to pick up more than an emergency order of insulin. Even if this issue will be resolved or resolves itself in the near future, many of us still need to get insulin now. Fortunately, I travel enough that I can always pick up Humalog in the UK, China or India where the prices are all in line with Canada.

I didn’t mean he could fix this. I meant his office might know what the situation is. Several posters here have said different things.

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I am well aware of the situation. My claim is that you can’t physically go to Canada now as a US resident and pick up more than 2 packs of insulin. No poster has said that they are able to do this anywhere. Yes, a lot of posters say a lot of different things, many unrelated to my claim, however, I stand by my claim but would love to hear from anyone in the US who, since the past few months has been able to physically go to Canada and purchase more than 2 boxes of insulin.

If you don’t know who or what the cause is, how do you propose to approach a fix? If it is not illegal somehow, then it is not a true impediment. If the stumbling block is a corporate edict, then you can figure out a way to circumvent it OR find a legal means to lift it. If it is pharmaceuticals causing this through their distributors or the pharmacies, then it threatens free trade. It was just a thought. Anyway, you don’t wish to speculate. End of thought.

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I’ve heard nothing official wrt limiting drug purchases by foreigners.

There was something on the news this morning regarding sourcing pharmaceuticals for Canadians, but they were referencing past shortages of Epi-pens and the current shortage of Tomoxifen

While suppliers to Canada guarantee maintaining adequate inventory, our government doesn’t enforce this agreement when these same suppliers ship to US for more $$.

Insulin is not on the current shortage list, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled for anything regarding this.


Sorry, I work full time and this is just one fight/battle that I don’t have the time or energy to take on. Hopefully somebody else can figure this out and perhaps do something about it. The pharmacies I talked to today were extremely cooperative so I am sure someone that has the time can get to the bottom of this situation and perhaps even get some form of corrective action.

Here’s where the rub is for me.

You stated there’s a new law. There doesn’t appear to be one. Therefore, the premise of your original post isn’t exactly correct.

It may be correct in your situation, because they have your US address.

If a pharmacy has a regular trade in significant numbers of people coming in to purchase significant amounts of insulin OTC, then that pharmacy is likely to keep a larger stock of insulin on hand, because it’s selling and the pharmacy is earning some amount of profit (IOW, it’s good for their business). Therefore, it seems as though purchasing from those pharmacies will continue as before.

The pharmacy I have been using is no more than a few hundred feet into Canada from the US border. This pharmacy has been catering to many US residents for years for drugs that are cheaper in Canada than in the US. They are the ones that told me it was a new law that went through in September 2019. They may be using the term law loosely and interchangeably with regulation, guidance etc. especially since there is possibly a language nuance in the exact legislative definition between French and English. They never stocked more than a few boxes of any insulin but were always willing to order and receive within 48 hours whatever was needed. I would be happy to message you the pharmacy if you would like to follow up more on this issue.

Everyone here believes you that it is a new problem. We just want to know the how and why the change happened; otherwise there’s nothing we can do to try to change it back or help you go around it.

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Were you buying your insulin in Quebec @CJ114?

It’s entirely possible that the province made their own decision regarding selling drugs to cross border shoppers. Or perhaps the drugstore chain made their own internal decision?

Personally I think it’s BS preventing anyone with a chronic disorder from buying their pharmaceuticals from a drugstore that has adequate supply.


Yes, I historically purchased my insulin from the Familiprix chain in Stanstead QC as they are just a few hundred feet over the border from US and have supplied insulin and other drugs to US customers for years. When they gave me the bad news I called a few other Familiprix pharmacies in the region and got the same news. I then contacted another chain to make sure it was not just a chain edict so called a few pharmacies in the Proxim chain that are not too far from another border crossing (St Albans) and got the same news. So my only experience with this issue so far is Quebec pharmacies.

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I’ll ask my pharmacist tomorrow if this applies throughout Canada or is just a regional decision.


That would be great, thank you so much and if you could also have him give you a copy of the law, policy or whatever it is that is creating this mess if it applies in your region and post it, several people on this board are interested to get into the weeds and know the exact details. Thanks again, really appreciate it.