Scoring insulin in out-of-the-way places while traveling: our experience

We have been on the road since early June 2018 (that is 7 months already), and visited many regions and countries (probably about 15 or more), in Europe and Africa. Every place we went, we tested our ability to buy insulin without a local prescription.

So far, our success rate for buying insulin without a prescription has been 100%, in many different places: Orkney islands, French countryside, the capitals of Hungary and Czechia, a small village in the Moroccan backcountry, a country town in Spain… The only place where I have not been able to buy without prescription (to tell the truth I have not tried) has been in the US.

Our last attempt was this past weekend. We went hiking for a long weekend in the Alpujarras mountains (lower elevation part of the original Sierra Nevada, in Andalucia). We walked by a small village where we were spending the night, and found a pharmacy that was open that evening. They had insulin, but no Novolog cartridges: we asked if he could get us some. The next morning at 10am, we picked up five 3ml-cartridges for 43.60E, that is about exactly $50.

So, for the moment, on this trip, no-prescription insulin purchases = 100% odds of success!


Sounds like success at no-prescription and inexpensive insulin purchases, at least the one you mentioned. I just paid $150 for five 3ml cartridges.


Thanks for doing this. An interesting bunch of data points from outside of the US.

I think this is only the case for the dangerous analog insulins…Lily convinced the FDA of the need for prescriptions for analogs with the introduction of Humalog in about 1996. Regular insulin doesn’t require a prescription, in most places in the US.

I suspect at least a portion of the motive for requiring a prescription was to encourage insurance involvement, thereby allowing the drug prices to do exactly what they’ve done since 1996 - rise sharply, unseen, behind the screen of 3rd party payment.