Three Reasons Why OTC Insulin Works for Me

A man with Type 1 diabetes describes why he has used over-the-counter insulin for the past eight years.



Opinion

I am writing to share my experience using over-the-counter (OTC) insulin from Walmart. I am 41 years old and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 25 years old. I’ve used OTC insulin for the last eight years, and in that time I have found it to be invaluable for my self-care.

Everybody is different when it comes to Type 1 diabetes. I get that, and you are the best manager for managing your diabetes, but OTC insulin works for me, and for my sister, who also has Type 1 diabetes.

Here are a few reasons why I advocate for using OTC insulin:

1. The price

Over the last eight years years, the price of OTC insulin has only risen from $22.95 a vial to $24.88 a vial. With the pricing of prescription drugs making no sense these days, it’s great to sidestep it all and purchase this medicine at a cash price.

2. No prescription needed

Before using OTC insulin, it would always take my doctor’s office at least 24 hours to 48 hours to have a prescription filled after I called it in. I hated having to plan for two-day buffers for getting my prescription refilled. Now, I go to the Walmart Pharmacy, which is open seven days a week, and can get my insulin within five minutes.

3. Performance (no, really)

Three years ago, my company made a switch in my policy to cover more of the costs of my medicine for diabetes. When they made that switch I switched to Humalog and Novolin, but I didn’t see much of any improvement in performance of what I had been using. I just thought because my OTC insulin was cheap and easy to get it would be less powerful, but I was happily surprised to learn that it actually worked just as good in my body as the nation’s top brands.

If you can’t picture switching to OTC insulin full-time, please know that it’s there for you as a backup. Don’t forgo your insulin to pay for groceries or gas or your kid’s birthday. OTC insulin is definitely much, much better than nothing.

This story has been edited for length and clarity.

Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any decisions to change insulin brands.

Neither the author nor Insulin Nation received any compensation, or promise of compensation from Walmart for this story.

Image: Stephen Dyrgas / Flickr

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Josh Julian is a husband and a father of four. He currently resides in eastern Washington and works in sales for a wholesale food distributor. He has had Type 1 diabetes for 15 years.