Insulin Access

Insulin is a lifesaving medicine that is needed and it seems like there is still a lot of people who don’t understand how much people go through just to have access to it. My brother was only getting two vials for about two weeks and has run into issues where pharmacies are not getting that much stock in insulin. If there isn’t much to have access to it is not necessarily easy to buy a vial when it costs a lot of money outright. Luckily just recently my brother has been able to get more per prescription refill but it is still difficult to think about situations that have happened where he has run out before we can get a refill or the pharmacy does not have any. It can be a frightening thing.

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Hi @Lau13 . Where are you - or your brother - located? I’ve been on insulin since 1963 (yes, I’m grateful to be a diabetes dinosaur) and only once did my pharmacy have a shortage - as I recall my doctor had switched me to a new formulation that was not yet readily available, but between my pharmacy and me calling around we found it. I’ve had longstanding relationships with my pharmacies and pharmacists and they have helped me on occasion when I’ve run short prior to refill time: it wasn’t insulin but they have been able to get refill on a much needed med when I ran out early. And I’ve called my insurance to get an override. Those were situations where my doctor doubled my dosage, and rather than getting a new rx I took two pills and ran out early. Having said that, if your doctor changes your dosage it’s like getting a new rx, and the pharmacy will fill it even if you just got the old one - at least that’s my experience. So if he runs out result he should ask his doctor to order a larger quantity. My doctor writes my insulin rx based on my total daily dose plus enough to allow for “pump waste.”
I’m in DC and the various insurance plans I’ve had over the years work with a wide variety of pharmacies - CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, etc. And for a while I was even getting it via mail order - I never had a problem with it going bad even in DC’S hazy, hot and humid summers - the bottles/boxes came in a box packaged in Styrofoam, surrounded by cooling packets. Chilled like fine wine😊. And thankfully, on occasion when I was in a pinch my doctor gave me a bottle.
Hopefully some of those options will work for your brother.

Lauren @Lau13 you are a caring sister trying to help your brother care for his diabetes and himself; and I understand your concern about the availability and cist of insulin. As Dorie suggests, work with your pharmacist and be certain that you make it obvious that you will be regularly/often requesting a refill of his prescription. A pharmacy usually gets a restock ince every week, and pharmacists often have working relationships with nearby facilities to get additional meds in emergencies.

Does the doctor who wrote the prescription know how much [140 units] your brother uses each day?

Thank you for the reply and advice. My brother is on medicaid which is why he was limited to how many vials he could get with one refill. They had a limit ever since he has been on that insurance where he could get two vials for each refill and you can’t do mail in refills. Only recently they have changed it fortunately where people can now get around 3 months worth of supply at one time similar to what some of the mail in refills are. His doctor is pretty good at keeping up the refills and such but we can only do so much when medicaid sets the rules for how much of something you can get each refill. Thank you again for the reply I appreciate it.

Thank you for the reply. Like I told Dorie my brother has his insurance through medicaid so he has to get whatever they allow people to get with refills so the doctor can’t necessarily do a whole lot. Luckily they have recently changed it where people can get a larger supply at each refill now.

I’ve had Medicaid and now that I think about it my doctor wrote the scrip for 3 vials for 3 weeks. I thought that was odd but since I live close to my pharmacy it wasn’t a problem. Do check to see if the doctor is writing the scrip to cover his needs. I suspect that’s where the problem is - I hope I’m not wrong.

I am not completely sure what my brothers doctor writes for his insulin prescription. I think I remember my mom telling me that the doctor could only prescribe about 2 vials every refill so my brother was getting a refill every two weeks. I think with medicaid it could possibly be according to the state as well and what the states medicaid policies could be with medicine like insulin. Thank you for the reply.

I agree that it’s scary to consider insulin not being readily available. I’m in Ohio and every 3rd refill is preceded by a msg from the pharmacy apologizing for a partial refill as supply is limited. I have to wait for the remainder of the order to come in.