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46 Responses

  1. VirtueB
    VirtueB June 6, 2012 at 6:22 am | | Reply

    You don’t need a prescription to pick up insulin anywhere in Canada. It has nothing to do with a ‘safe’ versus ‘non-safe’ designation; rather, it’s scheduled as ‘life-sustaining medication’ for people with diabetes and, therefore, something that needs to be accessible. The system hasn’t crumbled and people still see their physicians for guidance.

    It seems over-simplistic to me to argue that access to such life-sustaining medication would pre-empt a visit to the doctor’s office. People making decisions about diabetes management without the guidance of healthcare practitioners might have more to do with other larger systemic issues (e.g., financial or physical access to care)?

    1. kathy shuller
      kathy shuller February 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm | | Reply

      I am for releasing all forms of insulin to OTC but with a qualifying status that comsumers MUST have an official documented diagnosis of Diabetes that requires Insulin. Easy solution to a complex problem.
      Once a diagnosis is made access to insulin can be made without a prescription. Diabetes is a fatal progressive incurable disease. Bottom line. Death comes quickly to those who require insulin but don’t have it.

    2. Kelly
      Kelly March 14, 2013 at 9:18 am | | Reply

      Thank you for this article and comments regarding the availablity of all types of insulins to Diabetics. My own history with type one diabetes have been a roller coster. Access to this drug is crucial to keep my condition in check, when out of work or when conflicting schedules make it hard to talk with an endo. A strict diet and exercise is just not enough. My hope is that all insulins will become more obtainable in the future without a perscription.

      P.S. Kathy you have a brillant idea!

    3. Paul
      Paul August 24, 2013 at 7:57 am | | Reply

      My wife is suffering with high blood sugar levels again this morning because she is out of the needle tips that fit on the end of her insulin pens.

      We can’t afford to see the doctor for the usual 2 min visit to obtain a prescription for the need tips.

      Often she is also without her recommended insulin type because we can’t afford to get a prescription and she does not like to use the budget cheap and nasty insulin that we can get if we beg for it.

      I went with my wife to the last visit to the doctor and it was 1 min and 50 seconds that consisted of a few comments back and forth about how she was feeling and the promise of a prescription.

      How on earth does society let these Doctors I mean DRUG DEALERS and the Pharmaceutical Industry I mean ORGANISED CRIME representatives get away this immoral behavior ?

      If anyone out there has a solution for us please let me know ?

      I have become so depressed and my own mental health gets worse each day as I watch my wife suffer in pain and her condition rapidly worsen with each passing day because of GREED.

      Not being able to follow the insulin plan as advised by a medical professional simply because we can’t afford to pay off the drug dealer to renew her prescriptions is driving me to the point of suicidal thoughts.

      To do nothing is to assist in this Immoral behavior and condone the suffering of others.

      LIFE SAVING INSULIN and accessories Must become Available without a prescription NOW !

      What is worse a robbery of a few needle tips and recommended insulin pens or a corrupt system of GREED ?

      WE DO NOT NEED A DOCTOR FOR A 2 MIN VISIT TO SUPPLY REPLACEMENT INSULIN TIPS !

      If only I was a Lawyer capable of suing I would.
      I think the term needed is a class action lawsuit ?

      IT”S COMING YOU GREEDY IMMORAL PRICKS!!!

      1. Denise
        Denise March 20, 2014 at 5:32 am | | Reply

        Paul – I hear and agree with 99% of what you said. The 1% I would heartily compel you to consider is the alternative: therapeutic essential oils. They are a game changer. You must enroll with one of the (only) two quality distributors out there and get your wife on some serious doses of them. Trust me, essential oils heal disease. It’s the principle of preserving wholeness of organisms and applying to a whole system; whereas pharma is the science of isolating an attribute of something whole, and applying it to a whole system…WITH SIDE EFFECTS. I personally recommend Young Living, simply for the support community, quality and integrity. Your wife is fortunate to have you; hope God keeps you strong enough to help her!

  2. Theresa
    Theresa June 6, 2012 at 6:24 am | | Reply

    I guess I am on the fence with this one. However, I am not so sure that prescriptions are a barrier to insulin. I would say cost is a barrier and I don’t know what making it OTC lowers the cost. In fact, would I have to buy it over the counter at retail if this happened, rather than pay a copay? Lots to consider.

  3. Dr. Matthew Mintz
    Dr. Matthew Mintz June 6, 2012 at 7:19 am | | Reply

    Access to physicians is the problem. The reason that OTC insulin seems to help patients is that they don’t have to go to the doctor to get a prescription, and getting to a doctor is hard and expensive. The FDA is attempting to circumvent the problem in a more cost effective way by taking the doctor out of the loop. Yes, they have meds available in Canada and other countries without a prescription, but these countries have universal access health care so that any patient on any day can go to a primary care physician and seek help without paying anything.
    Though I can see why patients could view physician opposition to this as self-preservation, our concern is really that the government is promoting cheaper and (in my opinion) inferior care.
    What I would like to see is that the real problem gets solved. Patients, especially diabetics, need a strong relationship with doctors and a health care team that they can turn to on a regular basis easily without significan financial burden.
    In addition, you probably realize that your insurance doesn’t cover over the counter medicines. If Lantus or any other branded insulin is OTC, and the government/insurance companies choose not to pay for this, who do you think will be stuck with the bill?
    #no2OTC

    1. kathy shuller
      kathy shuller February 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm | | Reply

      You obviously haven’t priced the cost of insulin in Canada lately. Almost $200 a bottle for OTC Humulin and Novalin R, NPH, and 70/30 that Walmart sells it for $24.99
      Lantus is super cheap at $150 in Canada compared to US prices, but it requires a prescription.
      I just checked this a few days ago and was shocked at what I found. The drug industry is literally killing people with these prices. Insurance companies need to tell the pharmeceutical industry they will NOT pay enormous prices for insulin. That is the ONLY thing that will bring the price down.

  4. Scott S
    Scott S June 6, 2012 at 7:49 am | | Reply

    As a point of clarity, at present, only analogues (third-generation insulins) are Rx today, and we can actually thank Eli Lilly & Co. for pushing the FDA on that issue back in the late 1990s when they attained approval for Humalog. Canada went it’s own way (lucky for them). One final point: although the official docket is now closed, any American Citizen, by Federal law, may submit comments to any docket from any public agency (like the FDA) at anytime. So I would dare say it’s not too late to chime in …

  5. Bob Fenton
    Bob Fenton June 6, 2012 at 8:23 am | | Reply

    I say no. This is not a good idea because if insurance will not cover the cost of insulin then the full cost will go to the patient. This is a cost that people without insurance face now and many people just barely able to afford insurance could not afford if insulin goes OTC. Price may decline slightly, but I doubt that.

    If medical insurance will continue to cover, then I see this as maybe workable if pharmacists are in control and it is not out on the shelves.
    With insulin, I still would feel more comfortable if it is not readily available as this could be the next medication of choice for suicide.

    1. kathy shuller
      kathy shuller February 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm | | Reply

      The full cost already goes to the uninsured. Insurance is the cause of the high cost of health care in the US. The average cost of health insurance for those that acutually pay for it themselves is over $1200.. A MONTH for one person!

    2. Marie
      Marie July 3, 2014 at 12:49 am | | Reply

      Insulin is already OTC and we havent seen a big spike in people killing themselves with Regular, now have we? Besides that, insulin is easy enough to come by even when it isnt over the counter, how many people dont know SOMEONE who is on the stuff, and its not like its something people keep locked up. Not to mention the plethora of other ways to kill oneself if one is determined enough, and hypoglycemia is as likely to put you in a coma as it is to kill you, more so actually. I bought my own insulin over the counter with no doctor for a couple years when i was uninsured and managed to keep myself alive with type 1, cant imagine what might have happened otherwise thanks to helpful people like you who would have me dead from diabetic ketoacidosis in short order.

  6. Anne Findlay Dowling
    Anne Findlay Dowling June 6, 2012 at 10:21 am | | Reply

    If R insulin is OTC why not the rest? All insulins will cause hypoglycemia in the patient who uses it long enough (one day? one week?). Or at least I believe they should be available in urgent situations (which can be assessed by a pharmacist, who has an advanced medical degree anyway) without a prescription. It’s the same logic in making insulin syringes available OTC.

  7. Tim
    Tim June 6, 2012 at 11:41 am | | Reply

    Just like you are required to have a doctor’s prescription to go overseas and get insulin, Type 1 diabetics should be given a prescription from their doctor the day they are diagnosed, and they should always keep it with them.

    Then they could get a pre-determined “emergency” amount of insulin from a pharmacy if the need arose.

  8. Stacey
    Stacey June 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm | | Reply

    As parent of two children with Type 1, it sounds like a way for insurance companies to make more money by covering even less. They already restrict which brand of insulin, number and brand of strips, pump necessity, and supplies. If their insulin was OTC, insurance companies would try to pay for none of it, or make us go through even more hoops and still pay for less. Already, with “good” insurance, we can barely pay for all the costs.

    Additionally, I have had many discussions at group endo appointments with other parents who have children with T1D. One parent still did not really understand how the insulin worked in her child; this was not a newly diagnosed child. The disease is complicated, and not everyone tries to or can educate themselves. Endos and the CDEs are essential for my children’s care.

  9. David
    David June 6, 2012 at 3:30 pm | | Reply

    Call me cynical but comments by others have me worried that this is a ploy on part of insurance companies to not cover insulin

  10. Hope
    Hope June 7, 2012 at 1:01 am | | Reply

    My first thought was if insulin is made OTC, insurance won’t pay for it anymore . . . but there are other products that are OTC and are still paid for by insurance; some generic brands of medications have OTC counterparts. But if it were to go OTC and NOT be covered, that would definitely be a hardship for people on fixed incomes, like me. After I pay my rent, I have about $400 left to pay for everything else I need. If I have to pay about $250 for insulin (the going rate in my area for one bottle of Lantus and one bottle of NovoLog), and then who knows how much for syringes, etc., my quality of life would definitely suffer. I am very pessimistic about this situation; we with diabetes seem to get the short end of the stick quite often where insurance companies are concerned.

  11. Reyna
    Reyna June 7, 2012 at 3:10 am | | Reply

    As a nurse, I think this is an unsafe practice. When working in the Intensive Care Unit, Insulin had to be “double checked”…checked by two RNs before administration. Insulin can kill if used incorrectly. It would be unsafe to have it OTC in my humble opinion.

    1. Tim
      Tim January 21, 2013 at 6:36 am | | Reply

      The only products that get double checked in an ICU are blood products and floor stock controlled substances. You may be a student or a pharmacuetical plant but you are not an RN. Tim 30 year RN.

    2. kathy shuller
      kathy shuller February 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm | | Reply

      Would it be safe for a diabetic not to have access to insulin? Is this all about the insured diabetic? A diagnosis of diabetes makes you ineligible for health insurance. I know this because it happened to me. This is not about insurance. It is about having access to a life sustaining substance for EVERYONE. What do you think will happen to the price of drugs if there was no health insurance? I think it would drop like a rock so that everyone could pay for it and not have to worry about dying in a couple of days in a very unpleasant way.

    3. Jo Moma
      Jo Moma February 23, 2014 at 4:15 am | | Reply

      Yeah… I’ve been hospitalized SEVERAL times and my experience with insulin coverage while under their care is really, REALLY bad. ER/hospital staff giving me shots HOURS after dinner, (oops busy)… Giving me doses not sufficient for my needs per my and my doctors instruction. (2 units coverage for 2/3rds of an entire day? When I really require much much more.(insulin resistance).

      Last time I was hospitalized I supplemented insulin doses by hiding it by my bed and taking shots when I needed it. Went much better that way.

  12. J
    J June 7, 2012 at 5:32 am | | Reply

    Rx in the US are typically only valid for a maximum of 365 days or 12 months. Chain pharmacies also typically do not like to fill Rx that are more than 3 months old.

    Furthermore, many states require that the Rx be ‘generic’ unless the patient agrees for the Brand and agrees to pay any additional $ for the brand.

    Narcotics used to be dispensed without an Rx back before 1915. When Congress decided that they must be Rx.

    Also, the Original Humalog Pens were discontinued ca. 2010 so they would not be available ‘generic’ or ‘off-patent’.

    Hopefully, the agencies can let the Pharmacist make decisions regarding medication like this. As the states have basically regulated them to get Doctoral degrees now a days to be a R.Ph. instead of Bachelor degrees. One would think that with more ‘education and internship experience’. A R.Ph. can be able to make a good decision regarding this. As most people typically see the same pharmacist for years.

  13. Vicki Lair
    Vicki Lair July 6, 2012 at 7:28 am | | Reply

    Has anyone asked if their insulin is available OTC? I am a Type 2 on Humilin 70/30 with no insurance. I can get it OTC anytime I need it. No questions asked at my pharmacy.

    1. Terry White
      Terry White August 29, 2012 at 1:09 am | | Reply

      Can you tell me what state you live in? It may vary state to state,as I also use 70 /30 humulin. I live in Florida

    2. gen
      gen November 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm | | Reply

      how much does it cost

      1. kathy shuller
        kathy shuller February 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm | | Reply

        Walmart sells 70/30 HUMULIN insulin for $24.99 a bottle without a script.

        1. Marie
          Marie July 3, 2014 at 12:59 am |

          Yep, R and NPH, maybe more by now, i started buying OTC insulin back in 2006 so this is far from a new thing… as far as i know if any insulin is prescription only it may be the new “24 hour” insulins, which, while they make life a bit easier if you are on a low carb diet and dont need a whole lot of per meal coverage, they CAN be lived without, so im not sure what the bruhaha is.. I also do not understand the paranoia, since here AND in many other countries, insulin has been available over the counter for a long time and i have seen no reports of huge spikes in deaths or suicides by too much insulin…much ado about nothing if you ask me. Make it all OTC but anything given by prescription should be covered by insurance companies, whether it is available otc or not, ESPECIALLY something that people will literally die without, like insulin, this aint no birth control pill here…

  14. Walt
    Walt September 19, 2012 at 12:44 am | | Reply

    I thought internists could prescribe insulin, too. No?

  15. Kay
    Kay October 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm | | Reply

    Personally, I wish they would make it prescription only. My friend’s boyfriend claims he’s a diabetic, but has never tested himself. He was told by someone that he was and he needed insulin. No doctor was ever consulted. So, now he takes insulin and eats whole boxes of cookies (not sugar free cookies), ice cream, and huge meals.

    Another friend knows he’s abusing insulin because he’s using it to stay thin. Taking way too much. So, yes, prescriptions should be mandatory! Besides that what is to stop drug addicts from getting needles?

    1. jaime
      jaime November 13, 2012 at 7:10 pm | | Reply

      Not that I don’t agree with the sentiments behind your comment, but I think the push is not towards insulin becoming OTC, but BTC (behind the counter). BTC is not a formal drug class, but I personally feel like it should be.

      There would be regulations in place for the sale of insulin so that situations like your boyfriend and friend’s won’t occur. For example, the pharmacists would need to counsel, get lab tests, or have a diagnosis from a physician before they can sell the insulin.

      (Needles would fall under similar rules, you have to be purchasing insulin/have diagnosis of diabetes in order to buy them)

    2. kathy shuller
      kathy shuller February 5, 2013 at 1:48 pm | | Reply

      Insulin will always be behind the counter because it requires refridgeration.

      1. jaime
        jaime February 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm | | Reply

        BTC have a different connotation than simply behind the counter. Yes, physically it’ll probably be in a refrigerator in the pharmacy, but right now, you can technically go and buy some forms of insulin just like any other product in the store (you just have to tell the pharmacist/tech to get it for you).

        Making it BTC would legally require some sort of consultation, diagnosis, or other pharmacist/doctor intervention to make sure the person actually has diabetes and is using the insulin correctly.

    3. Marie
      Marie July 3, 2014 at 1:08 am | | Reply

      im sorry, but your entire comment makes little to no sense. For one thing, someone following the scenario you set up here, while not diabetic, would not only NOT stay or get thin.. they would GAIN massive amounts of weight, insulin helps your body convert sugar into fat.. so THAT makes absolutely no sense…(though some body builders use insane workouts and LOW CARB diets, plus insulin to put on muscle, but that doesnt fit your little story here.. and for another thing, tell me again why we DONT want drug addicts to have easy access to needles? We like aids do we? Needle sharing is still one of the top ways people get HIV and other diseases of the blood, and they WILL do their drugs, and if it is hard to get ahold of clean needles, they raid trash cans and hospital rooms to get dirty ones… MUCH better, right? ::eyeroll:: Im sorry but thought processes like this only keep people like me, type 1 diabetic who is frequently without insurance, from life saving medications that are NOT drugs of abuse, do NOT get you high, and should NOT be kept from us. Take your narrow little mind and get some form of education please. gah. My life.. vs your concern that your boyfriend may be taking insulin so he can eat cookies or some drug addict might have a clean needle… real nice where your priorities are, may you never have to depend on insulin to live.

  16. A.J.Fox
    A.J.Fox November 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm | | Reply

    I only need it to stay alive, no ins.,little hope, dept of human services claims my disability pays to much for medicaid, and I have not made the two year mark yet for medicare, maybe I will die soon and they can spend the money elsewhere!

    1. kathy shuller
      kathy shuller February 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm | | Reply

      There are programs for people like you. check it out at your local hosptial. They will know where to send you. Make too many trips to the ER and they will make SURE you know how to appy for assistance. In the meantime, buy your insulin at Walmart.
      I have way to much income to qualify for any assistance so that is where I buy my in insulin.

  17. A.J.Fox
    A.J.Fox November 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm | | Reply

    No mention of cause, no mention of GMO in food supply either, at least someone observed the gross profit margin! {for maintenance not for a cure.

  18. John
    John November 18, 2012 at 8:41 am | | Reply

    I buy R and N Insulin over the counter at Illinois Wal-Marts. Yes, it is old fashioned Insulin maintenance, but my HBa1C is never oever 6 in the fifteen years I have used this. In addition Wal-Mart brand Insulin (Reli-On) is only $25 per vial. It is made by Lilly or Novo-Nordisk and I can manage my Insulin within my budget easily. Reli-On test strips are only 100 for $35 ….so I am happy! I have no insurance btw.

  19. Jay Kauffman
    Jay Kauffman April 8, 2013 at 7:03 pm | | Reply

    Hot topic!

    IMHO:

    If you are a type one diabetic you shouldn’t have to to continually renew your prescription for insulin. It’s obvious to anyone that without it you’d, like, die. Surely they can figure out some way to certify that you are a legit “consumer” or insulin and not have to continually renew your legitimacy as a sufferer of a supposedly incurable disease.

    For this same reason, insurance companies should have no business (pun intended) NOT covering it, and this should be obvious too.

    One of the most frustrating things about having to purchase my insulin by prescription is that I can never stock up for emergencies. I’m often refilling at the last moment possible. I think it is also obvious that a substance without which you will die quite quickly should be kept at the home of the potential “die-ee” in abundance–in case of emergencies such as outages, breakages hurricanes, any and all unforeseen circumstances, but this basic requirement is not even considered and can only be dealt with through subterfuge—-over-prescribing and stocking up over time. Something I’m never able to manage, unfortunately.

    With insulin pumps like omnipod, for instance, it’s easy to use more than the “prescribed” amount—malfunctions happen all the time and lots of insulin gets wasted, leading to running out before the next refill is due. I’ve emailed my doc so many times for this very reason, and of course she responds by caling the pharmacy right away.

  20. John
    John April 19, 2013 at 3:08 pm | | Reply

    Any barrier to a life-sustaining medication is highly unethical, and those who seek to establish them are exhibiting extremely unethical behavior. Don’t physicians take an oath regarding harm to a patient? Is death not harmful? Is kidney failure not harmful? Are amputations not harmful? Is blindness not harmful? Are those acceptable prices to pay to control distribution of life-sustaining medications?

    If you think they are, you might be a sociopath. Only a sociopath would maim or kill to attain some kind of goal other than sustaining a patient’s life. Denying insulin is tantamount to maiming or killing, as that is the outcome of that practice.

  21. Jonah
    Jonah July 19, 2013 at 10:05 am | | Reply

    On the topic of insurance not covering OTC medications, insurances cover blood sugar test strips and those are all OTC.
    And insurances now pretty much all cover N and R. I am using R (in Illinois)and my insurance is paying.

  22. KH
    KH November 7, 2013 at 12:24 am | | Reply

    Actually it is a racket and stance for self preservation. This country was founded upon freedom and individual liberties. Within issues of freedom it is no-ones business if a citizen chooses the freedom to self diagnose or medicate. Supposedly a free country but no freedom to take care of yourself. Instead, a governmental agency dictates you MUST pay someone else for the privilege of a script. That’s not freedom or liberty. The ACA is yet another step in the direction of eroding individual rights. Dr. Jason Wexler IMHO is totally full of shit. You don’t have to pay $75 and up for an office call to be well informed about your own health. The same information they have from medical school is available in any library and ONLINE. It’s all a racket. Bottom line is this, if a person does not know or understand what they are doing then they should have the common sense to see a physician for advice. But in no way should the government stand in the way of a person taking care of themselves. If they overdose as a result of not doing their own due diligence then it’s no ones fault but their own. It’s supposed to be a republic based on the fundamental rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is no question that within this I should have the liberty of taking care of my own life with or without a greedy physician that makes more in one month than I see in a year.

  23. Rudy
    Rudy December 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm | | Reply

    There is always powerful forces telling the powwerless, “we are looking out for you.” Only, if money is involved. When there is no gain the powerful don’t give two shits.

  24. Jumbo
    Jumbo January 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm | | Reply

    It seems funny their worried about misuse of insulin that’s otc when insulin obtained with a rx still requires diabetics to make discidsions every day on insulin amounts especially fast acting insulin taken on a sliding scale

  25. david
    david April 17, 2014 at 6:31 pm | | Reply

    as a physician who spends 30-40 min with diabetic follow up appointments and then hours daily on testing supply and medication prior authorization forms and refills, I’d personally LOVE to get the doctor OUT OF THE MIDDLE of all prescriptions and authorizations. The problems with this are:
    1) Most patients do NOT know how to use insulin correctly/safely and people DIE of hypoglycemia and KILL OTHERS when hypoglycemic and driving- I’d want someone using a drug that commonly causes hypoglycemia to be getting advice from a doctor- if you have a crappy doctor who doesn’t spend the time with you to teach you about diabetes management, then see one!
    2) For those with insurance, there will be a massive uproar when you get these drugs without Rx but then have to pay or deal with your own authorizations-I’m sick of them and people get pissed when we take a few days to get their stuff reauthorized because of the 10 faxes and calls back and forth between our office, the pharmacy and their insurance because their insurance and pharmacies have automated everything to the degree that the only Humans using common sense in the process are in my office and you have to beg for someone to actually THINK before sending a denial fax.

  26. david
    david April 17, 2014 at 6:37 pm | | Reply

    Oops… “…teach you about diabetes management, then see A BETTER one! (who will).

    Life, liberty, etc…. there are your rights and then there is the safety of others. Try talking about those rights to that for people injured by hypoglycemic drivers. It’s well documented that it’s the equivalent of driving drunk (worse if you actually loose consciousness). I used to live near a farmers market where a hypoglycemic driver who maimed and killed several plowing through a fence and into the crowd and drove behind another who weaved across the road and nearly hit a biker- I know that was the situation as that driver subsequently became my patient and was massively mis-using insulin…

    1. Marie
      Marie July 3, 2014 at 1:25 am | | Reply

      makes no sense.. because people going blind from hyperglycemia, people who have no sensation in their limbs from being hyperglycemic for too long, people who are falling asleep at the wheel because their blood sugar is too HIGH dont have the same degree of killing people than the reverse? Or maybe its because you figure most of them will have to come to you sooner or later to have their limbs removed or be admitted for diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar syndrome (basically syrup for blood) or have heart attacks and die rather than take anyone with them… is hypoglycemia dangerous, yes, does having to go to the doctor for a prescription of insulin make you unlikely to become hypoglycemic, hell no. It just makes you less likely to die from one of the above complications of untreated high blood sugar. A lack of common sense will kill you, and a prescription wont save you from that.

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