‘Insulin caravans’ transport diabetics 800 miles to Canada for affordable drugs

Toward the end of June, around a dozen American diabetics took an 817-mile caravan ride from Minneapolis to London, Ontario, in an effort to obtain more affordable insulin, CBS News reports. It was the second caravan in two months to make the trip.

According to CBS, the price of the diabetes medication in the U.S. nearly doubled between 2012 and 2016, eventually pushing the sticker price for a single vial of insulin to $340. Despite some efforts by individual states to cap out-of-pocket prices for diabetics and allow larger drug imports from Canada, many still struggle to afford a medication their lives depend on.

“Getting diagnosed today in 2019 in American with type 1 diabetes—it is a death sentence for some people,” Quinn Nystrom, who coordinated the latest trip, told CBS. “To me this is a human rights issue.”

Another participant, Deb Souther, has lived with type 1 diabetes for 46 years and, even with insurance, shells out $700 a month for the three vials of insulin she needs to stay alive. In Canada, where there’s public healthcare, a vial costs just $30.

Nystrom said those on the caravan were lucky to even make the trip, since a lot of diabetics can’t afford to miss work to travel.

“Coming to Canada is not a long-term solution,” she said. “Coming to Canada is putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.”

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