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Going to Canada for Insulin

More than 30 million Americans are living with diabetes. Many types of insulin can be used to treat diabetes and are usually described by how they affect your body. According to WebMd, insulin is a hormone that your pancreas makes to allow cells to use glucose. When your body isn’t making or using insulin correctly, you can control your blood sugar by taking man-made insulin.


The American Diabetes Association, published its Conclusions and Recommendations, made by the Insulin Access and Affordability Working Group to tackle the rising cost of insulin. In the seminal report, they found that “Achieving glycemic control and controlling cardiovascular risk factors have been conclusively shown to reduce diabetes complications, comorbidities, and mortality. To achieve these desired outcomes, the medical community now has available many classes of medications and many formulations of insulin to effectively manage the metabolic abnormalities for people with diabetes. However, the affordability of medications in general, and for insulin specifically, is currently of great concern to people with diabetes, their families, health care providers, insurers, and employers. For millions of people living with diabetes, including all individuals with type 1 diabetes, access to insulin is literally a matter of life and death. The average list price of insulin has skyrocketed in recent years, nearly tripling between 2002 and 2013. The reasons for this increase are not entirely clear but are due in part to the complexity of drug pricing in general and of insulin pricing in particular. As the price of insulin continues to rise, individuals with diabetes are often forced to choose between purchasing their medications or paying for other necessities, exposing them to serious short- and long-term health consequences.”


Is it legal to enter U.S. with insulin from Canada?


The cost of insulin in Canada is cheaper than in the United States. Many individuals bus to Canada to buy their prescription drugs, including insulin. U.S. Customs allow U.S. residents to bring back a 90-day personal supply of many medicines from Canada. For more information on permissible importation of medicine for personal use, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.


Prescription drugs are cheaper in Canada because of federal and provincial government policies that essentially act as price controls. Currently, the U.S. does not control and negotiate down prescription drugs, with the exception of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Medicaid program. Legislation is before the U.S. House of Representatives to permit Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Canada’s National Health care system doesn’t include prescription drug coverage. Canadian patients rely on a patchwork of public and private insurance plans to obtain drug coverage. 

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