Getting Insulin While Overseas

Hello! I am planning on a 5 week overseas trip to Italy and Bulgaria to work at two different summer language camps. The timing and finances work better so that I am overseas instead of flying to and from the US for both camps. I am obviously concerned about having enough insulin and pump supplies. I’ve heard that I can get insulin over the counter cheap if I need to while in Europe. I will stock up before I leave, obviously, but if in a crunch I would like some peace of mind. Have you had experience in getting insulin in these two countries? TIA!

I don’t know about Bulgaria, but I have never had any problem buying insulin in Italy. (I lived there for a year long ago and have visited many times since.) Most larger pharmacies in cities carry a range or can get what you need in a day or two. Pharmacies in towns and villages may only stock what local residents use. I have found, though, that a five-week supply of insulin, in vials and pen cartridges, with a safe amount of backup, is not a huge amount to carry.

Note that not all pharmacies will honour a non-Italian prescription (and getting an Italian one can be a headache, as is the case with anything official in Italy). However, most will sell a small (week’s worth) emergency supply without a prescription. So if you’re going to lose all your insulin, make sure it’s in the last week of your trip. :smile:

If language is a problem, just show them what you use and they’ll take it from there.

Pump supplies are more of a problem, as I don’t know of any company that will ship an order overseas. Best to take way more than you think you’ll need. As a fail-safe, buy extra supplies and insulin and leave them with someone in the States who could ship them to you quickly if need be.

Divertiti, e non preoccuparti!

Thank you so much for your response! That’s super helpful about the pharmacies. I have been overseas for 6 weeks once, but I was on pens then, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I think I’ll be okay as long as I don’t accidentally pull my infusion sets out (fingers crossed).

You want to speak with locals. Is there a train that you could take to a neighboring country (where you know someone well who knows how to get access) ? I know a lot of Russians, if you ever need advice, I can ask them. Don’t go to Russia for supplies, though. I advise against that. I would look to Germany or Italy. Bring paper prescriptions. Leave a copy at home incase someone needs to fax them on your behalf. Know where FedEx locations are. I have had insulin shipped to me over seas.

Can you email the US embassy?

Thank you for the tips!

Can you get a couple of pens to bring with you? I use a pump too, but even here at home I’ve occasionally had a run of bad luck—pull outs, bad insertions etc—that have cost me three or four infusion sets in a couple of days, so when I go abroad for any length of time I bring a Lantus and Novolog pen with me for emergency back up. I’ve never had to use them but they’re small enough that it’s no bother, and like you say, peace of mind is important.

1 Like