Following up on an announcement earlier this month, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders this weekend led an “insulin caravan” across the border to help people with type 1 diabetes purchase cheaper insulin in Canada.
Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar, ferrying sugar from the blood into the body’s cells to be used for energy. In type 1 diabetes, which affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas.
According to the American Diabetes Association, the price of insulin has tripled between 2002 and 2013, and an estimated one in four Americans with type 1 has at some point rationed the medicine — a potentially deadly practice.
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Taking place roughly 48 hours before then next round of Democratic primary debates, in which health-care is expected to play a main role, the trip began in Detroit, Michigan, and ended at Olde Walkerville Pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario, where insulin can be purchased at a fraction of the price as in the United States. Hunter Sego, who is living with type 1, and his mother Kathy paid $1,000 for 25 vials of insulin — about a six-month supply — which they estimated would have cost at least $10,000 back home. “Insulin is our oxygen,” she said.
The rising cost of insulin has been in the spotlight recently, with insulin manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) testifying on Capitol Hill regarding their pricing practices and efforts being made to reduce or cap the price of the medicine.
If elected, Sanders has vowed to appoint an attorney general to investigate drug pricing.
(Image: a katz / Shutterstock.com)
Want to learn more about insulin costs and saving money on insulin? Read “Insulin Manufacturers’, PBMs’ Testimony Regarding Insulin Prices,” “Sanofi Offering Insulin at $99 Per Month,” “Half-Price Humalog Insulin Now Available” and “Cigna, Express Scripts to Cap Insulin Costs at $25 Monthly.”
Senior Digital Editor for DiabetesSelfManagement.com, Fennell has 16 years’ experience specializing in diabetes and related health conditions. Based in New York City, she has a degree from Columbia University.