Many people with diabetes may find themselves in a situation where their insulin prescription is running low or has ran out altogether. In this scenario, it is important to be able to have immediate access to insulin to avoid going into a hyperglycemic state. This brings to question how heavily regulated insulin is as a medication, and what can be done if you do need to replenish it for future use.

Do I really need a prescription?

In some states, a pharmacist can offer insulin over the counter without a prescription, but it must be kept behind the counter for pharmacist distribution. In many cases, this may mean that the pharmacist will have the final say as to whether or not the medication can be sold to the patient.

Having access to over the counter insulin may be ideal for several reasons, but it may not be the insulin you actually need.

Over the counter insulin means an increased ease of obtaining it. If the need to replenish is more urgent, it could save hours or days being able to get it as a non-prescription medication. That being said, if the insulin you need isn’t available, your dosage could end up being incorrect and the medication may not be as effective.

Risks involved

Taking over the counter is not without its risks. Having an appointment with a doctor may allow you to have the best possible recommendation of insulin based on your lifestyle and presenting symptoms. In addition, there is a higher risk of going into a hypoglycemic state if your doses are incorrectly self-prescribed.

Purchasing and using insulin

Always consult with a doctor to find out what your insulin needs may be. A doctor will educate you on use, dosage, and how to make adjustments if necessary. If access to insulin is more urgent, it may be best practice to keep previous units of what was previously purchased as a point of reference when speaking with the pharmacist.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.