Cost of Insulin by Country 2022

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Insulin is a hormone, made by the pancreas, which enables the body's cells to absorb sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream and consume it for energy. However, in roughly 10% of the world's population (see Diabetes Rates by Country, the body's ability to produce and utilize insulin is disrupted, resulting in a chronic condition known as diabetes. There are two main forms of diabetes: Type 1, in which the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin; and type 2, in which the pancreas makes enough insulin but the cells can't process it effectively. Diabetes is a serious condition. Without adequate insulin, the body becomes unable to manage its blood sugar level, which can lead to a host of medical complications—in fact, according to the International Diabetes Foundation, diabetes caused 6.7 million deaths in 2021.

Fortunately, type 1 diabetes is usually treatable with the use of man-made insulin, which can be administered via a syringe or pen, an inhaler, or a surgically attached pump. Unfortunately, insulin prices have skyrocketed in the United States over the past two decades and continue to rise. For example, the American Journal of Managed Care pointed out that the cost of a one-month supply of the insulin Humalog cost $21 in 1996, but $275 in 2019—a 1200% increase—but actual inflation during that same period was only 63.67%.

Generally speaking, injectable insulin can range anywhere from $25-$300 per vial, and a patient may require as many as six vials per month. Moreover, diabetics must also purchase glucose monitors, test strips, lancets, and other supplies. Upgraded formats such as inhalers and insulin pens can be easier to use and travel with, but these tend to cost even more. Even with insurance, the cost of insulin and other necessary supplies can often cost more than a typical patient can reasonably afford.

Top 10 Countries Where Insulin is Most Expensive (2018 RAND Corporation):

  1. United States — $98.70
  2. Chile — $21.48
  3. Mexico — $16.48
  4. Japan — $14.40
  5. Switzerland — $12.46
  6. Canada — $12.00
  7. Germany — $11.00
  8. Korea — $10.30
  9. Luxembourg — $10.15
  10. Italy — $10.03

The price of insulin in the United States compared to other countries

A landmark study published by the RAND Corporation in 2020 analyzed the average price of several different forms of insulin (human, analog, rapid, rapid-intermediate, short, short-intermediate, intermediate, and long-acting) in 33 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes most of the world's developed countries and high-income countries. The study revealed that the manufacturer price for any given type of insulin averaged five to ten times higher in the U.S. ($98.70 USD) than in all other OECD countries ($8.81 on average). Even when using net prices, which incorporate possible rebates, U.S. prices would be roughly four times higher than in other countries. The combined top ten are shown above, and the full data for every country and type of insulin appear in the table further down this page.

Insulin costs around the world

While average insulin prices in the U.S. clearly lead the OECD by a staggering margin, prices in low-income countries, middle-income countries, and underdeveloped countries (and in the case of Humalog, Switzerland) are often similarly high. Moreover, the availability of particular forms of insulin and the necessary test strips and other supplies can be unreliable, putting even more of a strain on those who rely upon insulin to stay healthy. Charity organization T1 International conducts a worldwide biannual survey of people living with type 1 diabetes, focusing upon out-of-pocket costs. The five most expensive countries for each insulin type surveyed appear below. All prices are out-of-pocket costs (US$) per vial of insulin.

Apidra (Rapid-Acting Insulin)

Humalog (Rapid-Acting Insulin)

Novorapid/Novolog (Rapid-Acting Insulin)

Humulin (Short-Acting Insulin)

Novolin (Short-Acting Insulin)

Lantus (Long-Acting Insulin)

  • Kenya: $258
  • Panama: $80
  • Uruguay & Grenada: $50
  • Peru: $49
  • United States: $41

Levemir (Long-Acting Insulin)

  • United States: $53
  • Morocco: $28
  • South Africa: $16
  • Uruguay: $13
  • Indonesia: $7

Cost of Insulin by Country 2022

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Cost of Insulin by Country 2022

Cost of Insulin by Country 2022

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