"Couldn't live without it": diabetes, the costs of innovation and the price of insulin in Canada, 1922-1984

Can Bull Med Hist. 2008;25(2):407-31. doi: 10.3138/cbmh.25.2.407.


This article traces insulin prices in Canada from 1922, just after its discovery at the University of Toronto, to 1984 when production fell out of Canadian control. Connaught Laboratories (part of the University of Toronto from 1914 to 1972) was the first to manufacture insulin and remained the sole Canadian producer. As a public trust, Connaught remained committed to providing insulin at the lowest possible price despite increasing economic pressures. This article analyzes the context surrounding the price of insulin preparations and how they fell from 1922 to 1942, remained unchanged until 1967, and rose during the 1970s.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / economics
  • Diabetes Mellitus / history*
  • Drug Costs / history*
  • Drug Costs / trends
  • Drug Industry / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / economics
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / history*
  • Insulin / economics
  • Insulin / history*


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin