Why does insulin require a prescription in the US?


Yeah, I have only been diagnosed (initially by self) for less than a decade, and my own recollection has to do with diabetic friends and colleagues. What you say sounds right. A year in the 'frig is pretty good – not what I would call short. I guess $20 was more four decades ago than today, but at least not prohibitive for most. I was in college then, and my annual living expenses were maybe $2k in the mid '70s. But I was very frugal too.

You mention “bulk” epinephrine. I have CVID (a polygenic, or primary, immunodeficiency) and now infuse (antibodies, of which I make none of my own) weekly, and I must have epinephrine available at all times for the infusions. It is paid for by insurance, but many hundreds of dollars, and has to be renewed after one year at most. This is what I am referring to as the “racket”. Glucagon is much more effective than adrenaline for quickly raising BG, being the “primary” hormone, whereas adrenaline is only a secondary response (endogenously).

I looked into all of the options for obtaining vial epinephrine, whch indeed is sold widely for < $10. But only to licensed pro’s, including vet’s. Furthermore, even if I had found a source (and I did not) for myself, it would not have satisfied the requirement of verified purchase, with prescription, of one of the pen-forms of epinephrine. My “specialty pharmacy” and immunologists’ office regularly verify that I have the in-date pen. So all of this is some background for my comments. Even as a diabetic I cannot access either hormone in a vial. Patients taking beta blockers and having various common conditions can be refractory to epinephrine, moreover, but glucagon is still effective for emergency treatment of acute immunological reactions.


    April 12

More interesting to me than the regulatory treatment of human and analog insulins is that of injectable glucagon and epinephrine. This has become a big racket, I think, because these have become so profitable as emergency supplies for anaphylaxis and similar acute immunlogical reactions. They used to be available as emergency supplies for diabetics, I think.

Anyone know more about the market history of these emergency hyperglycemics?

My recollection from nearly 40 years ago is that a glucagon kit was about $20 and came in a wooden box with glass syringe and had to be refrigerated. Like today’s kits it is mixed up at usage time. Life in refrigerator was short, just a year? I got mine back then with prescription but do not know if it was also available without prescription.

Today a glucagon kit is closer to $300.

On epinephrine: bulk epinephrine in a vial is just $5. It is available by prescription. Epi-pens are $600 for two of the brand name ones, or $200 for the cheaper ones.


That can be an issue with many legal things so it is not a valid reason. Older Insulin is available without rx although at a pharmacy as I recall so otc is the next logical step.


This is so stupid.

If they ever refused to give me an Rx I would go in with a weapon and take it before I would just give up and die from keto acidosis.

Its extortion being required to buy an insulin purchase permission slip. Pay or die is what they are saying.

Paying for the product, that’s different and not problem.


You don’t need go to the pharmacy with a weapon. You sound like my best friend. Its frustrating. But, its just as satisfying to make a scene…you just don’t want to end up in jail. That can’t happen to you as a diabetic.

What you need is a good pharmacist, who you trust. There are bright, young things out there. You gotta shop around. Find the best ones in the area and remember them. Your favorites will not always be working. Establish a relationship with one or two. They will help you.

I am lucky, now. There is a really, really good one in my town and also an excellent, much-beloved one in the neighboring town. The much-loved one has a nephew who is a diabetic and asks me lots of question about diabetes.

Before I knew these two, I had to drive around and around to different pharmacies a lot. There is an endless stream of pharmacists. If one gives you an answer that you dont like, you can go find another.

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I know but I also know what people do when the reaper is near by.

It was just my first initiation to this, my ID was at home someplace and they asked for it to buy needles and that little bit of terror “what if I can’t find it?” I had this habit of chopping my syringe with these wire cutters after use, weird I know but using a used one was not an option so that breif but pretty intence terror of what if, what am I going to do really made me feel so helpless. I still resent the hell out of it.


Show me your papers or go get sick and die is what I heard.


Thanks, I can see that. We both have fighting spirit rebellious posts. Some of us have to, imagine how bad they would treat us all if no one made noise and started sh*t.

“I need my needles, my medicine”


No, not me. Not happening.


Although I’m in a “good place” right now, being in my 50’s with a grey buzz cut and a steady job, things weren’t always so easy to get a good working relationship with health care professionals. It was substantially harder for me when I was college age.

Part of it is how I look now, but another perhaps larger part was attitude and interpersonal skills. I sucked at those when I was 20 but have some experience today.

Perhaps an important part of transitioning to adulthood that would help a lot of T1’s, would be some sort of boot camp on how to get prescriptions filled and doctor’s appointments. This is not something I was ever taught in school and to tell you the truth having my pediatrician do everything for me when I was younger made it super hard for me to transition to adult healthcare system when I was college-age.

I don’t know how old our member IgotT1 is, but I would not be surprised if he is having some of the same struggles that I had.


@IgotT1. I’m pretty good about keeping a stash of important stuff. You might already be doing it now. So because it’s smart anyway and should make you feel better, why not have a couple of packs put away in a cupboard as emergency back up? Lol, I always had an extra box or two. I still do as I use them for my dog. Since syringes keep forever you don’t have to worry about expiration dates. Ask your doctor about needing more, you can tell her what happened or say you’re giving yourself extra shots nowadays. It’s great, I’m now in a state you can buy them OTC if I need too!

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It took me 25 years to figure out how to buy insulin. It still doesn’t always work. There are always new hang-ups. I blame system complexity. I, honestly, wish I had better advice for him. Some things get better and some things get worse. Its so dynamic. Like, I used to keep paper Rx on file and up to date to deal with repeated computer system failures. But, that doesn’t work anymore because no one allows paper Rx because of opioid stuff.

Hey, @IgotT1, how old are you…if you don’t mind me asking? Lots of people complain they profiled more heavily at a younger age. Maybe you look younger than you are. That happens to me. Super frustrating. I keep thinking I’ll hit some sweet spot where I have some type of innate authority from my age. Hasn’t happened yet. I am 37. Today, the accountant called me a ‘millennial,’ and my heart just sank.

How long have you been diabetic?


Enjoy it while you can. I used to look a lot younger than my age and it sometimes hindered being taken seriously in business. This past weekend I went to visit my 97 year old mother that lives in an apartment in a senior living facility. You can live there as long as you don’t need any medical help. In the elevator I was chatting up an aide that was on her way to helping out a senior with her laundry. As the elevator doors opened and she was walking out she asked “By the way, which apartment do you live in”? After recovering from my stunned moment, told her I was just there to visit my mother, but I have never felt so old in my life as that very moment.


hehehehe, she probably just liked you. People go into those things at SUPER young ages when their spouses pass away just so they don’t have to be bothered with mowing the lawn and stuff. Its a carefree, no responsibility kinda life style. Maybe she thought you looked like some kinda free spirit hippie, lol. I know those women - born beautiful, married a rich older man who passes away, then they are kinda stuck taking care of stuff that they never had any inclination to. They love the Senior facilities. I bet they cat around and really live it up there. Senior facility gossip is the best.


I am working on getting 6 months ahead. I keep using it past the expiration but picking up a new vial anyway. I bought two last time, I told the pharmacy last time I wanted 2 bottles because in case of a poop hit the fan situation I don’t want to be one of the first to die and they sold me two.

I am still learning, Lantus is $300 can I buy $3600 worth if I get a years Rx or does some pointless rule made by some ■■■■ sack bureaucratic type say I always have to be 60 or 90 days away from big problems in the case of a massive disaster that cuts of the supply ?

The solar storm of 1859 (also known as the Carrington Event ) was a powerful geomagnetic storm during solar cycle 10 (1855–1867). A solar coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth’s magnetosphere and induced one of the largest geomagnetic storms on record, September 1–2, 1859.

If that happens today we have big problems. I would like to be among the survivors.


Coming up on a year now. I am 47. I am looking at the number and yikes how did that happen so fast and maybe some seeing my age might think I should be more “mature” about this. Well being this age I am also old enough to remember the world or this country before the computerized big brother police state control grid and I lived most of my life without diabetes and this is a big change - worrying about sugar and eating taking up half my existence I don’t have any tolerance for the medical arm of the new computerized big brother control grid and the ‘just doing my job’ types, just give me my ■■■■ so I can stab blood out of my finger and stick a F needle in myself and get out of my way.

Name address birthday… show me your papers… Take all that and Go F yourself with it and sell me what I need.

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Why can’t I go travel like anyone else and be able to loose my luggage or have my hotel room robbed and be able to just go buy what I need without a hassle from hell ? Don’t loose your stuff hold on to it watch out for dear life. Should I leave it in the room is it safe ??

F them and Name address birthday… show me your papers.

I should be as free to live as anyone else.

A much much better title for this thread would have been - WHY did diabetics allow insulin to require a prescription in the US ?


Its harder for you guys that were diagnoses at later ages. Lots of life changes. The system comes crashing down on you. Its harder in many ways than for those of us for whom it has always been this way. Its easier to adapt as a kid than as an adult. In some ways, your outrage is a good reminder that everything shouldn’t be so broken. It causes people harm.


I am almost positive if you look at your doctor’s prescription that it says you get 30 days or 90 days at a time, not a years worth. Most insurance plans cover 30 or 90 days but there are variations (e.g. my insurance lets me get 90 days by their mail order pharmacy but only 30 days by local pharmacy.)

HERE’S A HINT: I noticed you multiplied $300 by 12 to get $3600, as if 12 vials of Lantus will last a year. BUT OFFICIALLY THEY WON’T. OFFICIALLY a vial is only good for 28 DAYS. Now you and me know that really if you keep it in the fridge and out of the sun it’ll keep much longer than that. But again the OFFICIAL manufacturer’s literature says it’s only good for 28 days.

So how do you use that hint? Well, I’ve been told that some folks can get 2 vials every 30 days as a result, or 4 vials every 90 days if they point this 28 day limit out to the pharmacist and talk nice. I have never done that myself, but have stretched my lantus to 45+ days a vial (using 20 units a day) and that’s how I built up a good stockpile.


You’ll know when a polite younger person ma’am’s you! Not exactly a pleasurable event.

That 28-day clock doesn’t start until you remove the insulin vial from the fridge and open it.

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I looked at expiration date. 28 after opening.

Just looked again 03.06.2021


I know I watch the kids showing ID to buy beer. They were born post USSR and think nothing of it. They have never traveled or even looked up from their cell phones more then 20 minutes at a time.

That crap started when I was over 21.

Its “Amerika”


Diabetic in “Amerika” ?

Your a drug addict at the pharmacy, pay the highest price in the world…

No problem in “AmerikA” can’t be fixed without more rules, regulations and “zero tolerance” and bla bla F bla. We can fix it !!

Hurry up and start “passing legislation” that L do it !


Going low right now. Did that whole above post fighting a low. Messy.

Anyway 21 to drink and suddenly more kids are messing with drugs. ooops unintended consequences oooops

It was never about underage drinking, it was about indoctrinating the public to more control.

Tell a young person how driver licences had no picture and people used to “chalk” the age and they look at you like you have 2 heads.

How could the world function without photo ID ? You are lying to me.


No kid, it wasn’t always about psycho control of everyone and everything.