Insulin cost in Canada

Insulin cost in Canada

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has presented diabetes as one of the most significant worldwide health e

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has presented diabetes as one of the most significant worldwide health emergencies of the 21st century. Every year, an increasing number of individuals globally are diagnosed with this chronic disease with possibly fatal complications that affects people of all ages.

Among Canadians:

  • 29% lives with diabetes or prediabetes
  • 10% lives with diagnosed diabetes
  • 6.1% lives with prediabetes
  • 7% lives with high blood glucose level
  • 1.7% lives with undiagnosed high blood glucose level
  • 1 in 10 women who give birth experience diabetes during pregnancy.

Diabetes is a chronic health condition with known early signs, symptoms, and risk factors in adults and infants, you can check the Mednow article to know detailed information about each type of diabetes and its symptoms.

Diabetes affects body functions and is linked to five chronic complications such as:

  1. Cardiovascular disease:  The most prevalent cause of death is coronary heart disease. The known risk factors are High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar, leading to increased risk of cardiovascular problems.
  1. Kidney disease: caused by damage to small blood vessels in the kidneys leading to the kidneys becoming less efficient.
  1. Eye disease: Most diabetics will develop retinopathy, a type of eye disease that causes blurred vision or blindness. The major causes of retinopathy include persistently high blood glucose levels and excessive blood pressure and cholesterol. 
  1. Pregnancy complications: Women who have diabetes during pregnancy, regardless of the type, are at risk for various complications if they do not carefully monitor and manage their disease. Women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes should reach target glucose levels before pregnancy to avoid potential health issues.
  1. Oral health complications: If the blood glucose level is not adequately controlled, people with diabetes have a higher risk of gum inflammation known as periodontitis. It is a leading cause of tooth loss.

Canadians with diabetes are anxious about growing insulin costs, and insulin alone might cost nearly $840 to $2,520 annually, excluding syringes or swabs, or insulin pumps.

The innovation & Historical cost of insulin in Canada

Frederick Banting discovered insulin for the first time in 1921 at the University of Toronto. Connaught laboratories greatly assisted Frederick Banting in developing large-scale manufacturing processes and underwriting the costs of manufacturing the new insulin extract for clinical testing. Connaught would then supply the extract in adequate quantities at Toronto General Hospital, where they treated severe diabetic cases, especially to resuscitate diabetic coma patients. Connaught had limited facilities, funds, and knowledge at the time to enhance the manufacturing of insulin on the scale required to fulfil the high market supply in Canada and abroad.

In June 1922, the first price for insulin was 10 cents per unit, and diabetic patients needed around 20 units of insulin each day.  As a result, a typical diabetic patient could pay roughly $1 per day for the first accessible insulin vials; even though, in 1923, the average annual income in Canada was $500, meaning that most diabetics might pay over half of their income on daily insulin injections.

The main issue was a lack of accessible funds to expand Connaught's insulin manufacturing facilities. By March 1923, there were appeals in Canadian media for the federal government to support Connaught and Banting with grants to speed the production to a massive Canadian insulin supply. Insulin prices in Canada have dropped to the point that a diabetic patient's treatment costs range from $30 to $3, depending on the amount of insulin required.

How Much Does Insulin Cost in Canada?

The amount of insulin needed depends on each person's metabolic requirements, blood glucose monitoring findings, and type of diabetes. The daily insulin need for type 1 diabetes patients is usually between 0.5 to 1 units/kg. While the initial daily insulin need for type 2 diabetes patients is between 4 and 6 units of insulin.

Insulin medications and costs in Canada:


Brand Name Cost/Pack How long it lasts Administration
Apidra® (Insulin glulisine) $70 (10x0 Units/mL) 3.5–5 hours Taken within 15 minutes before or 20 minutes after the meal.
Humalog® (insulin lispro) $60 (100 Units/mL) 3–4.75 hours Taken within 15 minutes before a meal or immediately after a meal
NovoRapid® Flextouch (insulin aspart) $80 (100 Units/mL) 3-5 hours Taken immediately after a meal


Brand Name Cost/ Vial How long it lasts Administration
Novolin® ge Toronto $70 (100 Units/mL) 5-8 hours  Taken about 30 minutes before eating or to lower high blood glucose
Humulin® R  $60 (100 Units/mL) 6-8 hours Taken within 30 to 60 minutes before meals 


Brand Name Cost/ Vial How long it lasts Administration
Novolin® ge NPH  $70 (100 Units/mL) Up to 18 hours Often taken at bedtime or twice a day (morning and bedtime) 
Humulin® N KwikPen $70 (100 Units/mL) Up to 18 hours Often taken at bedtime or twice a day (morning and bedtime) 


Brand Name Cost How long it lasts Administration
Lantus SoloStar®  $120 per vial (100 Units/mL) 24 hours Once a day at any time of the day at the same time every day.
Levimir® Flextouch Pen $150 per Pack with 5 Pens x 3 mL each 16-24 hours Taken once or twice daily
Toujeo® SoloStar® $160 per Pack with 5 pens x 1.5mL (300 Units/mL) Up to 30 hours Taken once daily at the same time every day

*Disclaimer: Insulin prices are approximate and may vary by province and pharmacy. 

Aside from that, syringes, alcohol swabs, and insulin pumps, which are the most common ways persons with diabetes inject insulin, are not covered in Canada. Furthermore, persons with diabetes must test their blood glucose using test strips more than once daily, which can cost up to $1.50 each time.

To save money, Canadians with diabetes have reported estimating their glucose levels, using fewer insulin medications than recommended, and taking oral drugs fewer times or in lower doses.

Factors that impact the price of insulin in Canada

There are various factors that the price of insulin increased over the past years:

  1. The prices of insulin in Canada are high without private insurance. Canadians report paying up to $15,000 each year. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, 57% of Canadians do not completely stick to their treatment plan due to high costs.
  2. Since the price of insulin is cheaper in Canada compared to the American market, where the individual pays up to $350 for a single vial in the U.S, Americans choose to get insulin from Canada.
  3. Due to the high demand for insulin from Canadians and Americans, it costs more over time.
  4. Researchers in recent years have created new effective formulas for insulin for the demand-supply curves.


Alternative Ways to Cover Diabetes Costs

Traditional Health Insurance

Traditional health insurance may cover some of the cost of prescription medication; however, depending on the specific plan, this may still leave significant out-of-pocket costs for patients. Additionally, people with diabetes may require extra health care, typically from more than one doctor or health care practitioner. Some of these practitioners may require out-of-pocket costs e.g. dietitians, mental health providers, etc. 

Mednow helps patients navigate through insurance issues, so you don’t have to, and they accept major public or private insurance plans. 

Federal Public Drug Benefit Programs

The Federal Drug Benefits Committee (FDBC) is a forum for collaboration amongst participating Canadian Federal prescription plans on program management and supply of drug coverage and pharmacy services. Prescription drug coverage is provided by the government of Canada through several programs to approximately one million Canadians who are members of eligible groups.

Health Spending Account

A Health Spending Account is an employee account that offers coverage for certain health care costs or other services that are not covered or not fully covered by provincial health insurance policies or other employer-sponsored insurance plans. Canadians adopt those accounts to link their existing medical coverage with chronic diseases like diabetes. These plans provide tax-free health benefits and cost-effective alternatives to health insurance. However, A legal Health spending account plan, on the other hand, must follow the requirements of a Private Health Service Plan

About is Canada’s top online pharmacy, providing an exceptional patient experience at home, including free prescription and OTC medication delivery.

Overall, our services include:

● Easy access to a doctor or pharmacist

● Virtual care

● Karie and PillSmart

● Online drug store

● Free prescription delivery

● Full-service mobile app

Best of all, accepts all Canadian insurance providers.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as medical or other professional advice. A healthcare provider should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Mednow or its affiliates.


Get Started

We recommend

Children’s Tylenol and Children’s Advil shortages: Mednow can help

Children's pain and fever relief medication is available from Mednow

Medication reminders on iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch

How to set up medication reminders on iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

PillSmart makes organizing medication easy

What is PillSmart? It’s easy to use, hard to forget daily dose medication organizer available at no extra cost to Mednow customers.