Detroit – Only 1 3/4 mile separates the US and Canadian terminals at either end of the Ambassador Bridge. In Canada, one vial of insulin costs about $ 30.
In America the price is ten times higher.
Bernie Sanders drove from Detroit to Windsor on Sunday. With him were thirteen American diabetics, all in search of cheaper insulin than is available in the US. They talked to the senator and a lot outside the pharmacy about their efforts to afford the hormone.
"What happens in America is a travesty," said Quinn Nystrom, a Type I diabetic. "We people with diabetes know that we are a fish without insulin, insulin is our oxygen, it is not an optional drug for any of us […]."
Patients with type I diabetes can not produce insulin that converts sugar to energy. For most people, the hormone insulin processes glucose (sugar) from what we eat to provide the body with energy. a deficiency can lead to nerve and organ damage, even death. Patients take doses several times a day.
According to a study published in January by the American Diabetes Association, the price of insulin in the United States increased by more than 15 percent between 2012 and 2016.
Kathy Sego, whose son, Hunter, who suffers from type 1 diabetes, turned to the crowd that had gathered outside the pharmacy. In an emotional testimony she talked about the financial burden of her family to keep her son alive.
"[My son] said," Mom, something's really wrong. Can you call the pharmacy, because I think our insurance is not right? "And I said," What's going on, honey? "And he said," Our insulin – my insulin costs nearly $ 1,500. Oh, that's right, we pay that much each month. "
Sego spoke to nearly 100 Canadians gathered in front of the store. The interior of the Ye Olde Walkerville pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario, did not differ from a store in the US.
Except the price tags.
"Today we have 24 vials, 25 vials," said Sego. "It was $ 1,000 I paid." We still save $ 10,000.
Sego said that the $ 1,000 would give her son six months of insulin, while the $ 1,000 would not get him a month.
Sanders promotes a threefold price-cutting strategy, promising, first, an Attorney General In the case of insulin, three companies – Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi – sell the hormone in the US He would pass his signature "Medicare for All" legislation if he was able to do so There would be a cap on spending on prescription drugs, meaning that no one would pay more than $ 200 a year for medicines.
Compare US drug prices with other countries, and let the Food and Drug Sanders believes that this process would halve the hassle. "In 1999, he accompanied as Congressmen breast cancer patients who traveled to Canada for cheaper drugs from Vermont.
In Windsor, Sanders said the differences exist because of the "collusion, corruption and greed" of insurance and drug companies.
"Over the last 20 years, the pharmaceutical industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on campaign donations, buying and selling politicians – Republicans and Democrats – over the past 20 years, they've spent billions of dollars on lobbying in Congress to ensure Americans continue to charge any price they want. "
The senator's skepticism towards the establishment was expressed. When other diabetes patients and mothers took the microphone, some agreed with his contempt. Others seemed to be emotionally drained.
Desralinn Cole, who came from Minnesota for insulin, burst into tears outside the pharmacy. Cole told CBS News that the financial burden of prescription costs prevents them from contributing to society and the economy.
"Even with insurance [the cost of prescriptions] is still a burden," she said. "People say you should save three or four months salary if something happens – it will never happen to me."
She said it was encouraging that Sanders had joined the trip. Cole said he seemed to be invested in their fight. However, she did not say if the trip inspired her to support his presidential candidacy.