Do we need a prescription to get insulin?
For the "older" recombinant human insulin preparations, such as regular or NPH, a prescription is generally not required (1). The big exception is the State of Alaska, where a prescription is needed.
So that means that Novolin R and Humulin R (regular insulins); Novolin N and Humulin N (NPH insulins); and Novolin 70/30 and Humulin 70/30 (mixtures of regular and NPH insulins) do not generally require a prescription.
In contrast, federal law dictates that the newer, insulin analogs do indeed require a prescription. These include rapid-acting insulins (Humalog, Novolog, or Apidra), mixtures of rapid- and long-acting analogs (Humalog Mix; Novolog 70/30), and longer-acting insulin analogs (Lantus, Levemir). See my previous blog post on insulin preparations for more information about any of these insulin analogs or mixtures (2).
So for diabetic dogs and cats, we need to be concerned primarily with insulin glargine (Lantus) and insulin detemir (Levemir) (3). Obviously, we do not need a prescription for ProZinc (PZI) or Vetsulin/Caninsulin (lente insulin), since those are veterinary products and would not be carried by a human pharmacy.
Do we need a prescription to get insulin syringes?
The requirement for a prescription for insulin syringes is much more variable between State-to-State (1). About a a third of States do have some limitations (e.g., a pharmacy may only dispense 10 syringes at a time or will only sell the syringes with a bottle of insulin).
For more information concerning specific State requirements, see this link that outlines the individual State laws for insulin prescriptions (1).
When in doubt, it is always best to provide your diabetic owners with a prescription for insulin syringes.
- Web site, Islets of Hope for Persons with Diabetes: State Laws for Insulin and Syringe Prescription
- Blog Post, Insights to Veterinary Endocrinology. Insulin Choice for the Diabetic Dog and Cat: Which is Best?
- Gilor C, Graves TK. Synthetic insulin analogs and their use in dogs and cats. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice 2010; 40:297-307.