Desperate for lifesaving insulin, Americans head to Canada: André Picard
2019-06-18 from theglobeandmail.com
There’s a new kind of drug runner in town – American mothers of children with Type 1 diabetes who cross into Canada in minivans to buy life-saving insulin at a fraction of the cost they would pay at home.
In The Washington Post, reporter Emily Rauhala tells the surreal tale of a caravan of Minnesota moms who travelled to Fort Frances, Ont., where they purchased $1,200 worth of insulin at a local pharmacy, a stash that would have cost them $12,000 in the United States. (Humalog, a popular product, sells for $34 in Ontario, without a prescription. In the U.S., the same vial costs as much as $300.)
The journey was loaded with symbolism, recalling the caravan of migrants headed to the U.S. from Latin America, which was turned back, in part, because President Donald Trump said it was harbouring drug smugglers.
But the insulin moms primarily want to draw attention to the perversity of U.S. drug prices, the absurdity of patent laws and the failings of the insurance system.
Insulin was discovered almost a century ago by researchers affiliated with the University of Toronto. It was one of the great medical discoveries of all time, a drug that has saved millions of lives. The pioneering scientists involved wanted patients with diabetes to receive insulin at little or no cost, so they sold their patent for $1 to the university.
In a rational world, insulin, a drug that is as essential to survival as water for some, would cost next to nothing.
Yet, in the wealthiest country in the world, patients with Type 1 diabetes ration insulin, and even die, because it is unaffordable.
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