MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The facts are simply staggering. In America today, one in four people are rationing their insulin because they can’t afford it.
For that reason, a bus caravan departed Minneapolis Friday morning on a mission to save both money and lives. They are heading to London, Ontario, to get the drug they can’t live without.
“Insulin is our life support. It’s like the oxygen you and I breathe,” said Quinn Nystrom, the caravan’s organizer.
The caravan will make stops in Madison, Chicago and East Lansing to pick up additional diabetics. When they arrive Saturday, the passengers will head to a pharmacy where they can purchase insulin over the counter at a fraction of the U.S. price.
“The cost of a vial of insulin here now in Minnesota costs $340. When we cross the border tonight and go to the pharmacy tomorrow morning in Canada, that same vial will cost us $30 dollars,” Nystrom said.
Deb Souther has been a type 1 diabetic since the age of 10. Her insulin pump requires about three vials a month. At the U.S. price, that’s over a $1,100.
“What I would pay almost $400 dollars for was $40 dollars in Thunder Bay, Canada. I was like, ‘Wow,'” Souther said.
Attempts to pass insulin price reform legislation failed in the closing hours of the last Minnesota legislative session. So with their overnight bags on board, this dramatic but necessary trip was underway to get a drug they need at a price they can afford.
“This isn’t a red or blue issue, it’s a life or death issue for us,” Nystrom said.
The diabetics taking this bus trip all agree this is not a solution to the problem. Rather, they want lawmakers to force pharmaceutical companies to make insulin available and affordable to all.