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Buying Insulin in Canada VS US

Buying Insulin in Canada VS the U.S.

People with diabetes rely on buying insulin in Canada to maintain a healthy life worldwide, so why does the medication’s price, accessibility, and other nuances vary so drastically from country to country?

Every country has different medical processes, medication prices, and healthcare systems. That said, the livelihood of diabetics, regardless of their country’s legalities, depends on access to safe and secure insulin.

While insulin serves the same purpose in both the U.S. and Canada, the availability of affordable insulin in these two countries differs significantly. In short, it is substantially more challenging to obtain affordable insulin in the U.S. than when buying insulin in Canada.

These disparities exist for various reasons, which is why ArcticMeds makes buying insulin in Canada easy when you live in the United States. We are committed to providing Americans with access to safe and affordable Canadian insulin.

ArcticMeds is an online prescription referral service that works with contracted Canadian pharmacies to provide Americans access to the top insulin brands at a more affordable price. We walk you through how to order your insulin and make it easy to refill your prescription online to ensure your continued access to safe and secure medication when buying insulin in Canada.

Insulin Comparison Between Canada and the U.S.

The difference in insulin availability in Canada and the U.S exists for a variety of reasons. Thankfully, when you are buying insulin in Canada online from ArcticMeds, you can reap the benefits of buying insulin in Canada.

buying insulin in Canada

 1.   The Demand

Consider the difference in population between Canada and the United States. The U.S. is home to 321.2 million people, and Canada is home to 35.8 million.

To put the demand for insulin in these two countries in perspective, 34.2 million Americans (10.5%) have diabetes, while 2.3 million (7.3%) Canadians have diabetes.

Buying Insulin In Canada


Even though the U.S. has a larger diabetic population than Canada and a larger population in general, insulin is far pricier and harder to purchase in the United States.

This disparity has resulted in groups of Americans travelling to Canada to make use of the country’s supply of affordable and easily accessible insulin. After all, Americans can purchase insulin over the counter in any of Canada’s pharmacies without a prescription.

diabetic suppliesCanada:

America has a much higher demand for diabetic supplies and medication like insulin – yet, the medicine is substantially more accessible in Canada.

The good news is that, when you use your prescription and are buying insulin in Canada online from, you can get your insulin without crossing the border and get it delivered to your home within 1-3 days. To learn more about our ordering process, find the answer to your questions through our detailed FAQ.

buying insulin in Canada

2.   The Process

The process diabetics go through to obtain insulin differs in Canada and the United States because the need for a prescription in these countries varies based on the avenue used to purchase the medication.

Buying Insulin In Canada

America: To purchase insulin in the U.S., individuals need to get a prescription written by their doctor. Of the many different types of insulin that are available, Americans can purchase only Humulin and Relion insulin over the counter. New analog insulin, however, which type 1 diabetics rely on, still requires a prescription.

Due to the high costs of health care in the U.S., many Americans are unable to facilitate doctor’s office visits to obtain a prescription. Others are unable to fill their prescriptions due to the price tag attached to the medication.

buying insulin in Canada

Canada: Insulin is not on the Health Canada Prescription Drug List and can be purchased in Canada over the counter. When buying insulin in Canada online from ArcticMeds, however, Americans will require a prescription.

The CBC reports that, because the medication doesn’t require a prescription and is far more affordable in Canada, it is becoming more commonly imported by Americans crossing the border.

Americans may need to provide a prescription at the border to show the medication is for personal use, but this is not common. The volume of imported insulin should not exceed three months’ worth of medication.

When buying insulin in Canada from ArcticMeds, you will require a prescription written by a medical professional. This is a requirement of our affiliated pharmacies.

buying insulin in Canada

3. The Cost of Insulin in Canada VS U.S.

After Fredrick Banting co-discovered insulin, he sold his share of the medication’s patent in 1923 to the University of Toronto for a whopping 1 dollar. To say prices have gone up since then is a wild understatement.

When Banting initially sold his share of the patent, he intended to make insulin wildly accessible to the public —unfortunately, his dream is far from the reality in America.

Buying Insulin In Canada

America: Based on a report, a vial of Humalog insulin in the U.S. retails for $300 — over three times more than Canadian prices. These numbers skyrocket every year. Between 2012 and 2016, the annual cost of insulin per person increased in the U.S. by $5,700. That’s a 97% increase in four years.

diabetic supplies

Canada: According to The Washington Post, a vial of Humalog insulin costs $32 in Canada.

price of insulin in Canada vs USA

4.   The Regulations

You may be curious why the price of insulin in Canada vs USA differs drastically. This disparity exists because of how the countries regulate – or don’t regulate – medication costs.

Buying Insulin In Canada

America: The U.S. does not have any laws in place that regulate the price of insulin. Because of this, pharmacies can charge whatever they want for the medication. Ultimately, the producers and sellers of insulin in the U.S. can monopolize the medicine and sell it at exorbitant prices.

diabetic supplies

Canada: Canada has regulations that cap the costs of insulin and prevent pharmacies from increasing their prices. The country also has a Patented Medicine Prices Review Board that helps ensure that the cost of insulin and other patented medicine does not exceed the specified amount and is comparable to prices in other countries.

insulin canada

4.   The Quality of Life

The varying factors that make insulin far more accessible in Canada than in America directly impacts the quality of life of diabetics living in these countries.

Buying Insulin In CanadaAmerica: Due to the prices associated with getting a prescription for insulin, and the cost of the medication itself, many Americans don’t get a prescription written. Others don’t fill the entirety of their prescription so that the medication can last longer. This irregular schedule can have detrimental effects on a diabetic’s health.

Americans who don’t have health insurance struggle even more to obtain this highly-priced medication. Famously, 26-year-old Alec Smith died in 2017 after he no longer had his mother’s insurance plan and was unable to afford the medication or new insurance to cover it.

diabetic supplies

Canada: Canada has various programs in place to help diabetics access affordable insulin. The upfront costs for buying insulin in Canada are low, but in Ontario, for example, diabetics who use insulin and lack funding for their supplies can get a 75% reimbursement for blood glucose meters up to $75 every five years.

Additionally, Health Canada ensures that safe, quality, and efficient insulin is accessible when buying insulin in Canada  and does thorough reviews to confirm the effectiveness of different products.

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