Walmart markets several of its’ own forms of insulin under the “ReliOn” brand name, which is much less expensive than other comparable insulins. They did this by teaming up with 2 of the 3 major insulin producers – Lilly and Novo Nordisk. Walmart ReliOn human insulins, which include Humulin NPH, Humulin Regular, and Humulin 70/30 mix, were created by the collaborative efforts of Lilly and Walmart in 2010. These insulins cost less than $25.00 per vial. In 2018, Walmart developed a ReliOn Novolin insulin pen at a cost of $42.88 per box of 5 of 70/30 pens.
In 2021 Walmart collaborated with Novo Nordisk to create a fast-acting analog insulin “ReliOn Novolog.” Novolog came out under the Walmart ReliOn brand with each vial of ReliOn NovoLog vial (10 mL) costing $72.88 and a box of five FlexPens (3 mL each, 15 mL per box) costing $85.88. Walmart reports that its offering can save patients between 58 to 75%, which amounts to $101 per vial and $251 per package of branded Flex Pens1. By comparison, the cash list price for name brand Novolog is $289.36 for a 10mL vial and $559 for a box of five insulin pens.
This Walmart ReliOn Novolog insulin does not require a prescription but should not be used without the guidance of your healthcare team. They are designed for those individuals who must pay out of pocket because their health plans do not have prescription drug coverage or have a high deductible. When you go to Walmart you won’t find it sitting on the counter next to the Tylenol either; you need to inquire of the pharmacist to purchase it. It is still a medication managed very carefully by the pharmacist and needs to be refrigerated. The ReliOn brand analog however does require a prescription.
Human insulin may still be a reasonable option for some people with Type 2 diabetes and is often prescribed for those who cannot afford the newer analogs. For those with Type 1 diabetes, human insulins are harder to live on, can lead to worse control, may make it difficult to hold down a job, and impact quality of life. Human insulins, whether generic or brand name, are less predictable and require a stricter and more rigid diet and time of use. If you don’t adhere to a consistent eating schedule (including properly timing food consumption and insulin dosing) and carbohydrate quantity, you will experience recurring severe low blood sugars.
The eating regime would require consistent mealtimes with snacks between meals and prior to bedtime. A sample regime may look like this (depending on weight, gender, age, etc.):