Considering Ordering Insulin from a Canadian Pharmacy Service?

Taking the medicine into the syringe

Shipping insulin is very difficult!

Considering the high cost of insulin in the United States compared to Canada, you may be wondering if it is worth it to order Canadian pharmacy insulin online.  While the cost savings are obvious, the question is – why isn’t everyone doing it and is it safe?

To start with,insulin is an example of a product that requires refrigeration between 2°C and 8°C (35.6°F and 46.4°F).

For a number of Canadian pharmacy insulins the temperature is allowed to remain at room temperature for a maximum period of 30 days.  After this time period the chemical structure of the insulin begins to deteriorate.  The insulin molecule is a protein chain that is somewhat fragile and complicated.  So this protein chain begins to breakdown after a long period of time at room temperature.  When the insulin protein chain begins to breakdown, the potency or the effect of insulin is decreased.  Simply put, this means the insulin eventually becomes “old”.  So a person using old insulin will not have a good idea of how that insulin will affect them.

Warning: If you use old insulin and adjust your dose based on the old less potent insulin, and then later buy a fresh NEW batch of insulin, there is a very real danger of hypoglycemia if you maintain the same dosage and take the fresh insulin without adjusting your dose.

For example, let’s say a person adjusts their dose from 10 up to 12 or 14 units before eating a set meal over a period of time using old insulin.  This person then purchases a new or fresh batch that has its full potency intact and maintains the same dose of 12 or 14 units.  The danger or risk of hypoglycemia suddenly becomes a reality with the fresh insulin.

FACT: Insulin cannot be frozen.  As previously mentioned, insulin is a protein chain.  If this somewhat fragile chain is exposed to freezing temperatures, the protein may break.  If the protein chain is broken it will not have the same effect.  That is, a broken insulin molecule will not work properly and likely not work at all.  Frozen insulin needs to be discarded as you cannot be guaranteed of its effect or potency

You may be asking, “What does all this mean to someone who would like to use Canadian pharmacy services to purchase insulin by mail order?”  The fact is that if refrigerated temperatures are not maintained during shipment, the insulin molecule will begin to breakdown whether the insulin gets too warm (room temperature) or too cold (freezing).  If we look at these two options, freezing is the more dangerous of the two.  If the insulin reaches room temperature, the insulin is still good to use as long as it does not maintain room temperature for a period of more than 30 days.

So shipping is very tricky!  Temperatures can vary a lot from, say, Canada in the winter shipping to Texas during a heat wave.  Properly insulated packaging must be used to maintain temperatures during delivery.  This insulated packaging needs to be able to withstand the following risks:

  • Environments colder than 0°C (32°F)
  • Environments hotter than 30°C (86°F)
  • A period of time in either of these environments to allow for shipping
  • The possibility of a delay crossing customs

In order to minimize these risks, deliveries should be routed to an office space that maintains room temperature or directly into a refrigerated environment (such as a fridge).  Additionally, these deliveries should only occur during certain times of year when external temperatures allow for temperature-controlled shipments to be made successfully.  Finally, the deliveries must arrive within a certain timeframe to minimize exposure to temperature extremes.

All of these variables need to be tested and each delivery needs to contain a tested measurement device that will ensure temperature is maintained.

Most Canadian pharmacies will have a difficult time adhering to these high standards of safety.

Still Thinking of Ordering Insulin Online From a Canadian Pharmacy Service?

If you are ordering insulin or other refrigerated items from a company that offers Canadian pharmacy services, give them a call and speak to the pharmacy team. 

  1. How can you ensure ensure temperature variations are minimized?
  2. If the Canadian pharmacy service guarantees safe arrival ask them,“how do you guarantee my insulin package will arrive having maintained a safe temperature during the entire time it was en route to me?”

At your safety is our number one Core Value.  We want you to make informed decisions when it comes to your healthcare, your medication, and where you order it from.  Whether you choose to use Canadian pharmacy services to order your insulin or other medications, we want you trust that you are always getting a safe product.   The team at is happy to answer your questions.

If you have questions about your prescription medications or any other medication, please contact our team at Canada Online Health by calling toll free 1-800-399-DRUG (3784). One of our patient representatives will be happy to assist you or transfer you to a licensed Canadian pharmacist for a free consultation.

This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).

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