Travel in India with type 1 diabetes – insulin availability and pricing

In late July 2011, exactly 7 months after Amy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, we backpacked around India for four weeks, in a trip we called Monsoon Meandering.

This is post 9 in the series about that trip and its planning and how type 1 diabetes played a part.

This post is not borne from experience but from information some of my good friends in India have provided me, following questions asked via the #DOC (Twitter diabetes online community). I’d like to thank my friends Gautam, Madhu and Yogesh for their help in getting me the information for this article.

NOTE: If you’re interested in diabetes supplies other than insulin take a look at this post: buying diabetes supplies in India

Insulin availability

A quick straw poll of some UK Twitter users gave me a list of the most frequently used fast and slow acting insulins: (all sources courtesy of my friend Gautam.)
Fast-acting – Novarapid – is available, including flex pens. source
Fast-acting – Humalog – is available. source
Slow-acting – Lantus – is available. source
Slow-acting – Levemir – flex-pens are available, can’t confirm about cartridges. source

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Since posting this article last night my friend Gretchen, who is insulin dependant and travelling in India at the moment, has said that she could not find Humalog anywhere in Puri or Kolkata (Calcutta), even though getting it in those places is not meant to be a problem. Bear in mind that whilst Puri is tiny and only has a population of 200,000, Kolkata is a major city with a population of 5 million. Both are on the west coast so perhaps Humalog is not readily available there?

Insulin – example pricing

Using the sources listed under ‘Insulin availability’ above as of now – 6th January 2013 – the following prices apply. The rates are very good at the moment, I’ve seen rates 25% lower.
The current rate of exchange rates for Indian Rupees (Rs) are: £1 = Rs88, 1 Euro = Rs72, US$1 = Rs55 (source)

Speed Name Type Rupees £ Euro US$
Fast Novorapid 1 x 3ml Flexpen 555 6.31 7.71 10.09
Fast Novorapid 5 x 3ml pen cartridges 2211 25.13 30.71 40.20
Fast Novorapid 1 x 10ml vial – for pump 1450 16.48 20.14 26.36
Fast Humalog 1 x 3ml pen cartridge 408 4.64 5.67 7.42
Fast Humalog 5 x 3ml pen cartridge 2040 23.18 28.33 37.09
Fast Humalog 1 x 10ml vial – for pump* 410* 4.66 5.69 7.45
Slow Lantus (Optiset) 1 x 3ml pen cartridge 763 8.67 10.60 13.87
Slow Levemir 1 x 3ml Flexpen 988 11.23 13.72 17.96

* surely this can’t be the correct price but it’s the only one I could find; it’s more likely to be similar to the Novorapid 10ml vial of Rs1450 (£16.48, 20.14 Euro, US$26.36)

Next up – food glorious food

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One Response to Travel in India with type 1 diabetes – insulin availability and pricing

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