Why Americans buy insulin from Canada

For diabetics in the US, fulfilling an insulin prescription can be quite expensive and for some, getting their medication can be unattainable.

Politicians in the past have vowed to make pharmaceuticals more affordable to patients who may not otherwise would not be able to buy insulin.

As a result of expensive insulin costs, Americans with diabetes would cross the border into Canada where the price of medication can be up to 80% cheaper; even for the exact same brands manufactured in the US.

Is it legal to buy insulin in Canada?

The legalities of buying insulin from Canadian pharmacies is much of a gray area and certainly has its loopholes.

It’s illegal to buy insulin from Canada, but luckily it’s legal for Canadian pharmacies to ship medications directly to residents in the US.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forbids Americans from purchasing their medication from Canada in order to properly regulate imported drugs.

This law can be quite hypocritical since the same drugs can are manufactured in Canada, the same drugs are sold by pharmacies in both countries and Health Canada is a lot more strict than the FDA.

Despite the illegality to shuttle prescription medication across the border from Canada, most custom officials typically don’t bat an eye for patients picking up drugs for personal use.

Of course this doesn’t mean that they can’t seize a package if they wanted to, so those who are buying insulin from Canada need not worry too much. There also has not been a single case of anyone going to jail for ordering personal prescription medication from Canada.

According to an official statement by Health Canada in 2004, shipping prescription insulin to the US is legal and will continue.

“The cross-border sale of drugs to the United States has become an important business in Canada because many Americans are taking advantage of lower Canadian patented drug prices and are purchasing their drugs from Canada. Neither Canada’s international trade obligations nor our domestic laws prohibit these exports.”