Quick. Which costs less? A 10ml vial of U40 ProZinc for $120 (current pricing with shipping from Allivet) or a 10ml vial of U100 Lantus for $270 (current pricing from my local US Walgreen’s Pharmacy, before any discount program or card)?
Yes, you are right that Lantus is the right answer. That is because looking only at the price per vial can be misleading because the same sizes of U40 and U100 insulin contain different volumes of insulin. A 10ml vial of U40 insulin contains 400 units. A 10ml vial of U100 insulin contains 1,000 units.
The U40 ProZinc for $120 costs $.30 a unit. The U100 Lantus costs $.27 a unit. And in my experience and observation, an insulin-dependent cat doesn’t use significantly more units of one type of insulin vs. another, so pricing based on the unit cost is a reasonable measure.
But there are ways to get Lantus much less expensively than full price at a retail pharmacy. See my earlier blog post at http://fdmb-cin.blogspot.com/2013/11/lantus.html. I have bought Lantus insulin in Solostar pens from Craigslist sellers twice in the past two weeks for $.033 a unit. $50 for a box of five pens, plus I had to have a local friend pick them up for me and I will have to have them mailed in the spring, which might cost another $20. That will bring the cost to $.046 a unit.
That’s even more below the $.30 a unit for ProZinc.
Yes, it can be scary to buy from a Craigslist seller. DCIN has document of dos and don’ts about dealing with a Craigslist seller at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qTANyTw3SRZp9azAxSum2DAVyxZudMsj8dSovcRPFag/edit?usp=sharing. There have been times I have walked away from a Craigslist seller because it didn’t feel right. But many more times, I have (both in person and through friends) felt very comfortable with the person offering the insulin as s/he just lost her/his diabetic parent, sibling, or spouse. And sometimes these sellers turn out to be animal lovers and sell the insulin for less or even give it for free. I have even hugged Craislist sellers after we have exchanged cash for insulin.
If you still are uncomfortable with the thought of buying from Craigslist, you can buy from a reputable Canadian mail order pharmacy. At this time, many of them are selling a box of five Lantus pens delivered from the manufacturer’s plant in Turkey for $.09 a unit.
I can’t argue with the fact that the cheapest retail insulin is Relion N from Walmart at $25 for a U100 10ml vial. That’s $.025 a unit. But I can certainly take the position that many in the feline diabetes community will tell you that “N” is the worst possible insulin for a diabetic cat because of its short duration and its sharp drop in blood glucose levels. Caregivers that use “N” insulin usually have to give their cats shots three times a day, and then watch their baby take continuous roller coaster rides through their curves.
What I have said above for Lantus applies equally to Levemir. The US retail, Canadian mail-order, and Craigslist pricing for Lantus and Levemir are pretty much the same. I don’t focus on Levemir because many vets don’t know about it and therefore do not prescribe it. However, my Ennis did wonderfully on Levemir for over four years, and I know many diabetic cats that do the same.
But the biggest point to make on this post is that each cat is different and you need to find the insulin that works for your cat. But please don’t disregard Lantus or Levemir, which have a great track record when properly used of getting cats into regulation or remission, because you think it’s too expensive.