penurious from pet prescriptions
January 16, 2015 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Our cat is diabetic. It's well controlled, but we need some way to find a less expensive prescription. He's on 4.5 units of Lantus twice a day. The cost has tripled since we started giving this to him and coupled with the special food it's a painful expense. It works well. He's healthy, comfortable, and in pretty good shape for his 17 years (6 with the diabetes). I need concrete suggestions for filling his prescription at the best price possible. Can you recommend a reliable Canadian pharmacy that caters to pets? Is there some discount program we can enroll in? Any strategies would be appreciated. We're not going to stop his medication ( we haven't reached that point yet ) but I want to stop mentally calculating prescription cost * average remaining cat life span every time we get this filled.
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I know you're anon, but I would think it would help if you had let us know how much you are paying for the medication right now so we could stand a better chance at finding something cheaper.
posted by inturnaround at 12:00 PM on January 16, 2015

Lantus is the trade name, there may be a generic, which could be less expensive (A LOT less!). Ask your vet if there's a less expensive substitute. Lantus requires only one injection per day. If you're willing to inject more often, other meds may be more affordable. Talk to your vet.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:02 PM on January 16, 2015

Lantus is so expensive and there is currently no generic.

Are you getting a new vial every 30 days? You actually may not need to... our vet told us every three months (if it doesn't run out before that) is actually fine, and that was fine with our cat for years. If you seal the vial carefully each time with a fresh cap seal* and always keep it refrigerated, your vial will stay good longer than 30 days. And of course never use it if it is cloudy, colored, or has particles floating in it.

*Ask the pharmacist or vet for the little foil stickers that they put over the top of the vial between uses.
posted by dayintoday at 12:09 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Does Canada have AAA or a Canadian equivalent? A little-known fact here in the States is that AAA prescription discounts also cover pet medications - a lot of pharmacists don't know that either so the initial set-up process can be a pain, but it's well worth it in savings. I'm wondering if there might be something similar you could use there.
posted by Stacey at 12:23 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

holy shit. i was about to send you to canadian pharm i've used for years. but it's over $300 there too! i searched a couple of other...less reputable sites..and even there it's the same price. :(
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:37 PM on January 16, 2015

My neighbour's now-departed cat was diabetic, and yeah the costs get extreme, but I think she was only paying around $90 for a vial of insulin every couple-three months. From Shoppers--with the bonus that saving up Optimum points got her discounts on test strips. (Human test strips, have to calibrate your device).

This question I posted may help you reduce the food cost, at least.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:50 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Do you live near a Costco? If so, it's worth checking their pricing.
posted by evoque at 12:54 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Stacey - thank you for the pointer on the AAA Prescription card! I've been a AAA member for years and I didn't know they offered such a thing, and it turns out it will save my family money on a few things.

To the original poster: I checked the AAA Prescriptions web page and it's locale-based, but a quick search for Lantus turned up

"$732.5730 for up to 84 days" and "$261.4610 for up to 28 days"

Still expensive, but perhaps cheaper than what you've been paying? Whether or not you can get AAA membership in Canada, I don't know (I'm not finding an easy answer).

Our dog requires a couple of shots of insulin every day, plus misc other meds. We've found the lowest prices (and the worst service) at the Wal-Mart pharmacy.

In keeping with the AAA Prescription card - you may want to look over the details of any various credit / membership cards you have and see if any of them offer a prescription discount.
posted by doctor tough love at 12:57 PM on January 16, 2015

We use Canada Pharmacy for our pet meds.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:14 PM on January 16, 2015

My cat's been diabetic for close to five years, and he's always been on Lantus. The cost through the vet's compounder was exorbitant, so I tried craigslist. Sure enough, there are a bunch of folks who have Lantus vials to sell for much, much cheaper. I believe it's common (at least in the US) for diabetics to be given way more insulin than they need, and folks sell it to make a little money. It's worked out pretty well, assuming I can find a seller when I need it.
posted by hollisimo at 2:30 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I also have a diabetic cat. I second Craigslist. And my vet partners with a website That site will let you buy a single pen of Lantus instead of a whole vial. Regular pharmacies won't break up a 5 pack of pens. Although the pens are designed to be used with special needle tips, you can actually draw from them with a regular syringe. The pens contain less Lantus, but it might let you spread out the purchase over multiple pay checks. I also emphasize that if properly cared for Lantus is good for easily 4-6 months. I once had a vial good for 9 months. I test my cat's glucose at home, so I know it was still effective.
posted by Pleased_As_Punch at 2:50 PM on January 16, 2015

I have a diabetic cat, also on Lantus. My first advice, if you've not already encountered it, is to check out the Feline Diabetes Message Board for more information on feline diabetes than you could've ever dreamed of, including how to get food, insulin, and supplies affordably. These wonderful people have kept my cat alive.

Second, yes, it would help if you told us what you're getting now and how often you're tossing it. I used my first ~$270 10ml vial for almost six months with no noticeable deterioration, until my cat's pancreas seemed to be kicking back in and he went off insulin for a couple months. At your cat's current dosage, a vial should last about four months, which is $80/mo. I got mine at a slightly sketchy local pharmacy, Costco was cheapest but harder to get to. You do NOT need a membership to use the pharmacy at Costco, although it gets you an extra 5% off I think.

Depending on the dosage and how often you're tossing, it can be more cost-effective to get the Lantus Solostar pens. It's more upfront if you have to buy a whole box but it lasts longer and if you are frequently discarding insulin, you can discard less of it. Iif you can get them individually, as Pleased_As_Punch mentions, you can spread out the cost. In my case, I just started my cat back up, he's on a very low dose and one $80 pen will probably last me six months. For some reason, Costco and Target in St. Louis will sell individual Lantus pens, I picked one up while I was home for Christmas. I was not able to find a single pharmacy in NYC that would do that, I asked pharmacist friends and I still have no idea why this is the case.

Third, what are you feeding your cat? If he is not already on a low-carb wet food diet, switching may lower his need for insulin. Certain classic pate style Fancy Feasts and those big 12oz soup cans of grain-free Wellness are quite appropriate for diabetics and cheaper and have fewer carbs than many prescription diets. Making your own food in bulk is also be an option, though even I'm not quite that hardcore. Again, FDMB has a lot of information on feeding your diabetic cat.
posted by yeahlikethat at 3:16 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh also, here is a recent FDMB post favorably reviewing a pharmacy in Vancouver.
posted by yeahlikethat at 3:30 PM on January 16, 2015

I can't tell if you're in Canada or if you are just thinking "Canadian pharmacies are cheaper," but for what it's worth, Costco in the US will sell one lantus pen at a time. My cat was just diagnosed two days ago, and when I went to Costco, crying my eyes out, I was so happy to find out that the pen would be $80 and last 75 days (refrigerated). The pen needle tips cost $14 and last 50 days.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:08 AM on July 19, 2015

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