In the "Old Days" insulin cost

I remember in the “old days” the cost for a bottle of insulin (the pork stuff NPH) was only $1.49. That was 1972. I remember going to the local drug store in North Miami. No CVS, No Walgreens, No mail-order. The Pharmacist’s name was Herbie. When we walked in the drug store “Herbie” the pharmacist would pull out one bottle of insulin and a box of syringes and say “Here you go sweetie”. My mother would sign for it. BD plastic disposible syringes were the newest and greatest to Diabetes Stuff. The drug store would send a bill to the house every month. That was a big expense for a family of 5 then. I thank my parents for what they gave and did for me.

If you have been doing this for 30 + years, what was the “old days” price for you.

Wow, $1.49!

I remember the local pharmacy delivering meds when I was a kid. Of course, those were also the days when doctors made housecalls. My pediatrician & his little black bag came to our house many times. No taking sick children with fever out of the bed to go anywhere, or diagnosing over the phone. I loved him & knew I’d feel better as soon as he arrived. I went to him until I was 17:)

I remember, circa 1974-76 at Spelman College in Atlanta, getting a couple of bottles of insulin (NPH, beef and pork)for about $2.50 each; and a 30-day-one-injection daily- supply of syringes for either $10 or $15 dollars. My parents bought it for me and mailed it to me freshman year. I bought them for myself from my little student paycheck in junior and senior year…I paid about $20 to $25 a month for diabetes supplies, which was significant as I don’t think I made but about $60-$75.00 monthly., but I was on a half-tuition scholarship; and parents/grants paid for the rest, as well as room and board…so I felt blessed and fortunate it!!!
Hard to imagine that my three to four bottles a month cost $10.00 or less, and now my Apidra is listed at $103.00 a bottle…

God Bless,

By the way, Parents did not mail the insulin, just the syringes…I picked it up from the local pharmacy, but they had prepaid for me…

God Bless

I remember in 1965, the glass syringes breaking My mom (I was not yet diabetic) was horrified. The darn things cost like $100.00 to replace. Mom was so careful with the things and when she dropped them, she was sol. It nearly broke the family, but you gotta do what you gotta do, and mom got a shiny new set the next day.

My Moms pharmacist was herb and mom would call and Herb would get her stuff ready always on a Friday evening. When we would get there, the line would be like 15 deep, but mom swooped in and picked her stuff right up. The insulin was in a refrigerator in front of the pharmacy. Sometimes I got to get it for her.

Each Friday Herb would throw in a large paper cup of crushed ice, for my mom. Since mom consumed Ice like air, that meant that evening we would not have to stop at DQ for the evening ice run. Her cups at the pharmacy were a little smaller than DQ, and Herb found out, he started giving mom double cups. Even as late as the mid 70’s long after mail order etc, When Herb saw mom, he would get her ice.

My first insulin also came from Herb’s refrigerator. When I checked out, Herb thought I was getting it for mom and he ordered up two large cups of ice.

rick phillips

I used beef insulin until about the mid-1970s when (if I remember correctly) the beef/pork combination was introduced. My parents paid $1.19 for the beef insulin and by about 1982 the cost was $6 for beef/pork insulin and $9.30 for purified pork insulin. When Humulin was introduced to the Canadian market in 1983, a 10ml vial cost about $14 – a huge increase for a product that, at best, could only claim to be as good as what was already on the market. The cost difference probably led the the massive withdrawal of cheaper generic animal insulins – the manufacturers have had a striking disregard for the cost burden they impose on people who need insulin.

Christopher Rutty, in “Couldn’t Live Without It”: Diabetes, The Costs Of Innovation And The Price of Insulin In Canada, 1922-1984, documents the retail price of insulin in Canada. The price of insulin was very high until about the late 1920s as production increased, thereby lowering the per unit price. In 1922, for example, the price of a 10cc vial was $119.27 (in 2006 dollars). Through the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, the price of insulin continued to drop – by the mid-40s it was the equivalent (in 2006 $) of about $2.43 per vial. Ten years later, a 10 cc vial of 40 unit strength of regular insulin was 83¢ in Canada – at that time we had some of the lowest prices for insulin in the world (compared to between $1.19 and $1.39 in the U.S.). These prices stabilized in Canada until the late 1960s, but in the 1970s prices really began to spike. In the late 1970s, beef insulin went up to $4.20/vial; pork was $6.70/vial. This took the average cost of managing Type 1 diabetes (insulin, syringes, urine test strips, etc.) to roughly $4-$6 a week. This ended when Connaught Labs was privatized and Eli Lilly entered the Canadian market. After that, there was very little control over the retail price of insulin. By the mid- to late 1980s, the price for beef insulin was $9/vial, for biosynthetic human insulin was $14/vial. In 1995, beef/pork insulin was about $11/vial, Humulin was about $18/vial. That year, almost all of the lower cost animal insulins were pulled from the market. Canadians are now paying some of the highest prices in the world for insulin. That’s what happens when governments let Big Pharma have control!

I am trying to find information on or about Herbie and his family. I grew up in North Miami and Herbie was personal friends with my Mom and Dad. I even worked for him as a kid, and he paid me to clean and striaghten his merchandise shelves at the pharmacy. I knew his two daughters, Bonnie and Cheryl (Sherri?). I am trying to locate them. Do you have any information as to the Name of the Pharmacy back then? Or Herbie’s last name? Really appreciative - RJ Franquiz

Sorry, but I do not have any info. I moved from Miami in the early 80’s. The pharmacy was on 7th avenue, on the same strip as Gi Gi’s resturant, Home Bakery. The strip mall was next to St James Catholic Church. I am sorry but I do not have any info regarding him. As a kid I saw him older than my parents. Would he still be alive?

Unless memory fails me I seem to remember 1.98 for R and 2.00 for N, that was in 1959 and 1960. Since I live in a different city I’m sure prices did vary. In those old days there were no disposable syringes. I had a glass syringe that I would boiled each timed I took shots.