Costs of Apidra Vial Insulin - Canada vs. USA

Hello all,

I live in Georgetown, Guyana. I have been getting my supplies of insulin from the Shopper's Drug Mart in Canada for the last 12 years.

I have been paying $35-$40 per vial of Apidra.

I am currently in vacation in Florida, and ran out of insulin, so I had to get a prescription to get one here.

To my surprise, the cost of one of the exact same vials here is $235.99.

How is that even possible.. does anyone know why it's so much over here?

I'm surprised to read that you were able to get Apidra for that cheap. I don't get why the modern insulin analogs cost so much, but they do. When you buy through your Canadian source, is the price subsidized by any other program, like Canadian socialized medicine benefits? Or perhaps Guyana has a similar program.

@Terry, Guyana has nothing to do with it. If I go to Canada and purchase insulin, I get the same price. How I get my insulin is, my aunt purchases it, then sends it down to Guyana with one of my relatives who would be travelling at that time.

I believe it has nothing to do with personal benefits based on Canadian healthcare.

What is the price of Apidra or other insulin in your area?

I don't buy my insulin from a local retail pharmacy.

My mail-order plan gives me a 90-day supply of insulin for an $87 copay. The total cost for 5 vials of Apidra is $866. I believe this is a discounted price negotiated by the pharmacy benefit manager. My 90-day supply of test strips (1400) is covered by my insulin copay.

Seems like this is an incredible opportunity for those that live near the US/Canada border. Is this price of $30-$40/vial only available for walk in traffic? I wonder if the Canadian pharmacy would send the insulin via the mail.

Our medical system is corrupt and lacks price controls. The manufacturer has a patent and charges whatever will bring in the highest profits. You might consider getting an older insulin from Walmart for $25/vial. Christ, my Copay for Apidra is $45.

Its because the government in Canada dictates a maximum amount the drug companies can charge.

This has not prevented any drug from coming to the market in Canada. That shows that the companies make a profit at the Canadian rate.

If they were not making a profit they could just simply not market the product in Canada. In fact, lantus was not released in Canada until 2005 for that specific reason. Lantus is 70.23 for a 1000 unit vial, I think they have special permission to charge that much.

Its because the government in Canada dictates a maximum amount the drug companies can charge.

As I suspected, it is due to a Canadian government policy, a sort of subsidy, that enables the low price. This, I think, answers the OP's question.

Its not a subsidy, the cost the OP mentioned is the actual out of pocket cost. The government dictates how much a drug company can charge for a product. If it was a subsidy it would mean the government was picking up part of the tab

these are the out of pocket prices of all the insulins

“The 1987 amendments to the Patent Act also established the PMPRB as the consumer protection pillar of the pharmaceutical patent law reform to ensure that the prices of patented medicines are not excessive.”

So more than 30 $ is considered excessive for 1000 units of a apidra.

I agree that the lower cost of insulin in Canada is technically not a subsidy. It is perhaps a question of semantics.

Bottom line,the Canadian government health care program has intervened in the market and artificially lowered the cost of insulin. Without this enlightened intervention, I suspect that my neighbors to north would pay the same high price that we in the US pay for the modern insulin analogs. I applaud this enlightened action of Canada.

Also, if the company was not making a profit at 30$ they simply would not sell it. So clearly they are making a profit at 30$ a vial. $235.99 for a vial of insulin is absurd.


When you say subsidy, I think of the Canadian government paying the insulin manufacturers the difference in price between what they charge individuals in the U.S. and what they charge individuals in Canada, to "make up" for what the insulin manufacturers would "lose" by selling in Canada. This isn't the case. All the government does is put a maximum price on how much the product can be sold for in Canada, they don't pay the manufacturers anything to "make up" for this lower price.

Each province in Canada does have a health care plan which covers some or all of the cost of certain medications for individuals. So if I were to walk in and buy a package of pen cartridges of 1500 units of Apidra, and pay the whole cost myself, it would cost about $60. But because I have provincial coverage, I only pay $16 for 1500 units. I have additional coverage through work, so really I only pay $3 per 1500 units of Apidra.

I've always thought it's insane when people from the U.S. post saying they pay hundreds of dollars for insulin. Same for Precision Xtra ketone strips—in the U.S. apparently they cost $80 for 10 strips, here they cost $18 for 10 strips.

It's great that Canada made rules to facilitate affordable purchase of life-saving insulin.