Can you buy Insulin Syringes Over the Counter?


Can you buy insulin syringes and needles over the counter? If you are dealing with one terminal ailment or another, this is one question you are may be asking if you require insulin and syringes for your treatment. Certain medications are prohibited without a doctor’s prescription, so it is only responsible for you to want to know if buying insulin syringes over the counter is illegal.

In this article, we will throw more light on the subject and also highlight the steps you should take if you want to buy insulin syringes over the counter.

Is it Illegal to buy Insulin Syringes and Needles in the US?

The answer to this question is a big no. It is legal to buy syringes over the counter without a doctor’s prescription in most US states. However, you need to be aware of the grey areas regarding the law in your state. Also, the pharmacy you wish to buy from reserves the right not to sell to you, if the sales reps are not fully convinced about your need for the syringes and needles.

So even though it is not illegal to buy them over the counter, a pharmacy may refuse your order if it violates federal, state or local government laws.

Before we jump into the details, it’s essential we go over the need and use of syringes with insulin.

What is Insulin Used for?

Insulin is one drug that has become a lifesaver for many people with high blood sugar. Generally, insulin is used to control blood sugar levels in people suffering from Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. There are different types of insulins (including insulin detemir and insulin isophane) which are used in different occasions, due to their release times. 

What are Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a clinical condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, so the consequence of that is its inability to control the level of sugar in the blood.

As for Type 2 diabetes, people with this condition have too much sugar in their bloodstream because their system sores not produce or use insulin at all. For such people, taking medication orally will not work due to the seriousness of their condition.

So the alternative is to use human insulin, which is a hormonal drug. This human or analog insulin, as they are often called, takes the place of naturally occurring insulin in the body to break down and remove sugar from the blood. The sugar or glucose is then transferred to other parts to be sure as energy. Human insulin can also be used to stop the liver from producing too much sugar.

So the end result is a normal and balanced sugar level in the bloodstream. All insulin drugs work in exactly the same way; the only difference is that some work much faster than others, but their effects are consistent.

Diabetes Can Jeopardize Your Health

Over a long period of time, people with diabetes tend to develop serious medical conditions if they don’t check the growth of sugar in their blood. Serious health complications include but are not limited to

– Stroke
– Heart disease
– Nerve damage
– Kidney problems

So to avoid these complications and more, insulin is administered at regular intervals before or after meals.  Besides using the medication, people living with diabetes are advised to practice healthy lifestyles like exercising, eating right and checking their blood sugar regularly. Avoiding unhealthy foods, reducing alcohol consumption and a stop to smoking are some of the adjustments they can make in pursuance of a healthy lifestyle. They may also add complimentary medications to manage their blood glucose. 

Syringes Play a big Role in he Administration of Insulin

Syringes play a very big role in curtailing the growth of blood sugar, which is why people suffering from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are often seen with syringes and vials. The vials contain the insulin liquid, while the syringe is the instrument used to pump the insulin into the body through the veins.

It is important to stock syringes so you can have them at your disposal to in case you are in dire need for an injection of insulin.

Asking a pharmacist to sell you syringes is not as easy as it should be, especially because it has become common knowledge that drug addicts use syringes to administer hard drugs as well. However, you don’t have to suffer in silence simply because you are too ashamed to approach a pharmacy in person. Here are some tips to help you out.


How to buy Insulin Syringes and Needles at a Pharmacy?

Before you step into a pharmacy to request needles and syringes, you need to clear your conscience first because you are not doing anything wrong. With a clear mind, walk into any pharmacy and follow these tips.

Be Honest

When requesting needles and syringes, there is nothing you should be ashamed about and don’t try to hide anything from the pharmacist. The pharmacist may likely ask you why you are taking insulin. Let them you know you are a diabetic, or you can show them your diabetic identification. Although pharmacists are allowed to sell syringes in many States, they will still ask to be sure.

Pharmacists do this because they want to avoid selling supplies to a drug user. So be upfront about your condition and what you want to use the syringes for. Also, be aware of that law in your State. In most States, a doctor’s prescription is not required to buy insulin syringes, but in others, buying more than 10 syringes may cause the pharmacist to request a prescription from your doctor. If you have your doctor’s prescription with you, be open to sharing it with the pharmacist.

Be Open About Your Condition

If you are buying syringes  for yourself for that first time, open up and let them know what you need them for. Note that there are so many people like you with the same problem, so your case is not different. So feel free to discuss your condition with the pharmacist as openly as possible.

Doing so will give them an idea about the type of syringes are best suited for your treatment. This is a good way to get what you need instead of letting the pharmacist figure it out on their own.

What’s Your Syringe preference?

If you already have experience with syringes, you can take things a step further to discuss the type of syringes you prefer. After discussing your condition, discuss your syringe preference and how many of them you will need in a week, month or whatever the duration may be. 

You may also discuss your budget with the pharmacist to help him determine the quality of syringes you can afford. When you discuss your preference and your last experience with certain syringes, the pharmacist will be more informed about which syringes you dislike and will not sell them to you.

Requirement Specifications

Now is the point where you specify your requirement. This involves going into great detail regarding the specific type and quantity that you need. If you have little or no experience, you can ask your doctor or trained medical professionals for recommendations.

Some of the specific details to provide include the following.


Needle gauge

This has to do with the needle’s thickness. Some needles are thicker than others, and they range from 28 -31 gauge. The lower the gauge, the thicker the needle. For kids, thinner needles are best but being an adult, you may prefer a thicker needle. Let your preference determine your choice.

Needle Length

You should also specify the needle length you want. Lengths range from 12.7mm to 8mm. The former is the most common, while the latter is the shorter version. Most diabetes patients prefer shorter needles.

Barrel Size

Now comes the barrel size. Larger barrels can hold more Insulin compared to smaller barrels. The size you go for should match the insulin dosage your doctor has prescribed. A 3/10-cc syringe can hold 30 units or less. A ½-cc can hold between 30-50 insulin units. Then we have the 1-cc syringe that can hold between 50-100 units.

If you are aware of these various specifications, you will spend less time at the pharmacy, and the pharmacist will be better informed to give you the right supplies. That is why it is advisable that you discuss these specifications with a professional before you embark on shopping for syringes and needles yourself.

Once you have struck a relationship with a pharmacist at a pharmacy, the process becomes easier because you walk in and walk out with your supplies. We also recommend that you stick to the same pharmacy if you can for all your supplies.


You can buy insulin syringes and needles over the counter in most States. However, to simplify the process, make sure you are straightforward about your needs and be honest about what you need the syringes for. Communication will clear whatever doubts a pharmacist may have about you and also help them provide you with the right syringes. Although it is cheaper to buy insulin from Canada, the same may not be said about insulin syringes.