Buying Insulin from Craigslist

Initiate contact.

  • Ask as many questions as you can on the phone or by email. You are trying to get a warm fuzzy feeling whether you want to get involved.
  • Ask how the seller came to have the insulin. If it came from someone else, ask how someone else got the insulin and how the seller got it from someone else.
  • Ask whether the boxes are factory sealed. Usually we only buy factory sealed boxes.
  • Ask how the insulin has been stored. (Don’t prompt by asking whether it has been stored in the fridge.) If someone else previously has the insulin, how did someone else store it?
  • What pharmacy did it come from?
  • Confirm the expiration date; you don’t want to buy insulin that has expired or that will soon expire. You may find that the seller just lost his/her diabetic mom/dad/spouse and this is Mom’s/Dad’s/Spouse’s leftovers (this happens a lot). You may find that the person is diabetic and the doctor has just switched him/her to an insulin pump or to a different insulin (this also happens a lot).

If you feel comfortable going forward, you might ask whether there would be a way to lower the price. You might ask for a discount for buying more than one box. If the seller is offering the insulin with needles or syringes, and you don’t need those, maybe you can work a small price break instead. The seller might be a pet lover and give you a discount because the insulin is for a cat.

Once you feel good about the product and the price, arrange for a public place to meet to exchange insulin and cash. No going to each others’ homes. Exchange only as much personal info as necessary. Many police departments have Craigslist meeting areas in their safe, well-lit, monitored parking lots.

When you meet up, examine the product closely. Take a box from the last time you bought, or a picture of a box, to make sure the product looks legit. If you have a mail order box from a previous purchase of insulin, it likely will not look the same as a box from a US retail pharmacy. When I order insulin from Canada, it is shipped from Turkey, and the box looks very different from the box that comes from my local CVS. But you are looking for stuff that looks right, like the manufacturer’s name and logo and the box’s colors. Make sure the box is factory sealed. If it’s not, and you knew it was not, check each pen to see whether the fluid level looks appropriately full, the fluid is clear, and the membrane doesn’t look like it has been pierced.

Take along a friend for the purchase. There is safety and courage in numbers. The seller is going to want cash. Take appropriate precautions for handling cash in a public place. Don’t have extra cash on you. Have the exact amount already counted out and ready to go.

You will likely find that the seller is a very kind person. S/he may have future supplies of insulin that you can buy inexpensively.