FUDiabetes

Our recent run for the border (the Northern one)

So, a while back, I tried canvassing here to see what various people’s experiences had been with purchasing insulin in person in Canada.

Turns out, the purchase experience was really similar to the phone experience. The first pharmacy I went to, I identified as American, said that consequently I did not have a national insurance card (sorry to my Canadian friends for hacking the parlance of that), and asked for 3 vials. The young lady behind the counter looked at me like I was an alien (okay, guess I kinda was) and said that she’d never dealt with that. She summoned the pharmacist, who was an exceptionally nice lady. She gave me 3 vials without any questions but couldn’t give me more. $38/vial of humalog.

I went to a pharmacy up the road where I presented with the same information. The pharmacist there (at a Wal-mart) was less-helpful. She told me I needed a prescription. I had one but didn’t produce it. I said that I’d called ahead and was told I wouldn’t require a prescription. Would viewing my PDM suffice, I asked her? She acquiesced. I politely requested 5 vials and she balked at that, informing me that they weren’t in business to service Americans and that they needed their supply for their own citizens. Direct quote. She also made an official account for me in their system. I assume this was in their Wal-mart system, but couldn’t be sure that it wasn’t some sort of national registry.

I ran out of time to try a third pharmacy in person. Suffice it to say, Mark’s is slightly more expensive and more to the point, is difficult to ship in winter when supplies and temperatures run low. I was grateful to have an in-person option but wished it had been easier overall.

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Great write-up!

I am shocked that they were so nasty about your buying insulin. More than shocked. The crack about needing their insulin is downright rude.

But—where the Walmart pharmacist was wrong is that you do NOT need a prescription. I ran into the same problem in Montreal. I had researched it ahead, so told the pharmacist very nicely that this was incorrect and could she please look it up? She spent 5 minutes and verified it, then gave me what I wanted.

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Thanks, @Michel!

Yes, thankfully I had verified that before going too, so I knew it wasn’t true. She folded pretty quickly when I politely challenged her initial insistence that I required an rx.

How much were you able to get in Montreal?

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Each of the pharmacies only carry enough vials to meet their expected demand, so it is unlikely that any one pharmacy will have a big stash. My experience mirrors yours, you can get two or three vials, but you are subject to the vagaries of what they have on hand, and how much they need to always have to meet their normal business clientele. If you want a large order, use Marks, or call ahead and order what you want and pay for it ahead of time. The nice pharmacy I went to in Montreal said if I could wait two days they could get me how much ever I wanted.

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If I remember properly, between Montreal and Quebec City we got 8 boxes (+/-) of 5 penfills in 4 different pharmacies. We got a bunch of FIASP, plenty of Novolog, and some Lantus. We packed two thermoses full with them.

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Maybe you got an odd look only because there is no national insurance card. And that’s because there is no national insurance for drugs or health. Insurance is provincial, and although a resident would have a provincial health card, it doesn’t apply to drug purchases.

She was wrong, as you know, but it’s reasonable that she might think she was right, given that the majority of Canadians will present a prescription, for insurance and/or tax purposes.

Next time, I’d skip identifying as American. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. You want insulin, you get insulin.

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This is all really helpful, @Beacher! Thank you. I was trying to be up front and not to pose as something I wasn’t. I wasn’t trying to present as “American and therefore deserve service.” More, “I know I don’t belong here, but can you help me anyway.”

But, yes, I’d forgotten the provisional thing, so I’m sure the initial look was related to that.

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Did you take cash?
Canadian or US?

I wondered if she wasn’t actually Canadian. :smile:

Maybe I should add: Canadians are some of the nicest people I’ve met around the world, and I probably shouldn’t lump them all together, but… They’re always so nice! (EH works for a small Canadian company and their “corporate culture” is amazing.)

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I paid with a credit card in both places.

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I just wanted to say welcome back to FUD !

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Yes, she did present with a really tough exterior. I could imagine how she might feel–especially if she’s had a few pushy Americans. I don’t think she was able to grasp the disparity between costs, and I didn’t feel compelled to enlighten her particularly. I was trying to be a nice American (I can appreciate that those may be rare in her field).

And @travelingon, your comment made me laugh. Everyone else we met (almost to a person) could not have been nicer!

I haven’t quite figured out how to manage the border crossing. I anticipate they might not appreciate the intricacies of this subject and worried that they might confiscate insulin if I answered that I had bought prescription drugs in Canada. Foreign drug import is now legal: discussion thread
@Sam doesn’t think they would. Any other experience there?

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@Irish, funny you asked, we did get stopped by customs on the way back and they searched our bags :slight_smile: I told them I had 3 months’worth of insulin in the Thermoses (the official tolerance) and they did not even open them to check.

We did have our prescription with us just in case but they never bothered. My feeling is that as long as what you are bringing back is not ridiculously large they won’t check if it is 2, 3 or 6 months’ worth. I did ask our endo to give us a large paper prescription to cover us.

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I love Canadians eh, but I can’t help but hold a grudge for creating Poutine. That dish which when done right is amazing (and fattening), but is usually done wrong and is a waste of money and carbs.

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I called pharmacy in a small town very near the border here, when I was looking into a similar trip a couple months ago. They told me to call ahead so they’d have the needed quantity on hand, but sounded like no big deal.

Edit:. I also called a Walmart a ways up the road, and they talked about needing a prescription, so may be a company policy.

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I don’t think they can disregard CAN law. Imho just ignorance.

I live about 450-475 milesfrom CANADIAN order by INTER FALLLS, MN and Im on TOUJEO-HUMOLOG-NPH kwikpens and here in IOWA the cost is killing me every month. Im on DISABIITY also and I lost my LOW INCOME SUBSIDIES when my DAD died(JAN 15) and I inherited 40 acres of IA farmland(valued at $9500acre). so need info to get the insulins cheaper from CAN or MEX …… TY !!!

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Glad you were able to get your insulin at a price you could afford. Welcome to our site.

CHRIS sorry no !!..… I LOST all my subsidies for cheaper insulin … I just paid $340 for 6 pens of HUMOLOG for a month !!!

Seems pretty high for prices in Canada. I think you can get Humalog for approximately $35 Canadian for a vial, two of which should over you for a month. Not sure of the price of pens, but expect that a box of 5 would be similarly priced.

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