'Caravan' of Americans Crossing Canadian Border for Affordable Medical Care

  
Via:  freefaller  •  2 weeks ago  •  12 comments

'Caravan' of Americans Crossing Canadian Border for Affordable Medical Care

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


A "caravan" of Americans living with Type 1 Diabetes made their way across the U.S. border into Canada over the weekend in search of affordable medical care in a country where they can get the "exact same" life-saving products for a dramatically lower price.  "We're on a #CaravanToCanada because the USA charges astronomical prices for insulin that most people can't afford," tweeted one caravan member, Quinn Nystrom, as she shared updates on the journey. 

Nystrom was among a group of Minnesotans who piled into cars on Friday to make the 600-mile journey from the Twin Cities in Minnesota to Fort Frances in Ontario, Canada, where she said insulin, the hormone patients with Type 1 Diabetes rely on to regulate their blood glucose levels, can be bought for a tenth of what it costs in the U.S.  The "caravan" was organized as part of a campaign launched under the banner "#insulinforall" to call on the U.S. government to regulate the cost of life-saving drugs, including insulin, and make medication affordable for anyone who needs it.  Branding the cost of insulin in the U.S. a "price crisis," the #Insulin4All group noted on its website that since the mid-1990s, the pricetag on insulin in America has skyrocketed more than 1,100 percent, according to data from Truven Health Analytics, despite the cost of production for a vial of analog insulin costing less than $10.

Meanwhile, a recently released report ordered by Democratic Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, found that millions of Americans who rely on insulin are paying up to 92 percent more for the life-saving medication than patients in other countries. 

Posting a photo of a Walgreens pharmacy store on the caravan's journey to Canada, Nystrom wrote that the group "could've ended our #CaravanToCanada in 5 minutes, but unfortunately, they charge $300 for insulin. So, we will travel another 5 hours north so we will only have to pay $30 for a vial of insulin."  In addition to paying exorbitant prices for insulin in the U.S., Nystrom told local news station KARE 11 that she also pays $380 a month for her health insurance premium and doesn't see her insulin costs reduced until she reaches the $2,800 deductible.  By the end of the year, Nystrom said, the price she pays out of pocket for treating her diabetes comes to as much as $7,800. 

Lija Greenseid, whose daughter lives with Type 1 diabetes, told KARE 11 that she first realized just how vast the difference between the cost of insulin in the U.S. compared to Canada was while on a family vacation there a few years ago, when her daughter needed an emergency supply.  Not only was the cost of insulin dramatically lower, Greenseid said, but gaining access to the type of insulin her daughter needed was also significantly easier—a realization that brought the mother to the point of tears.  "It took me 11 days and 15 phone calls to get insulin this year," Greenseid said. "Insurance no longer covers the type of insulin that she would use if her insulin pump were to fail. In Canada, the pharmacist is happy to sell me whatever type I want."  "I started tearing up," Greenseid said, before sharing how the pharmacist in Canada had questioned how the U.S. could allow drug companies to charge so much for insulin when "people need it to live."  "It was very emotional for me," the mother said. 

While the FDA has cautioned against traveling outside of the U.S. to buy insulin as it cannot ensure the safety or effectiveness of drugs sold outside the country, Nystrom said she had zero concerns.  "Let me tell you, I'm going to inject this medication into my body and you will not be seeing a death certificate," she told KARE 11. "It's the exact same insulin."

In recent weeks, lawmakers have been drawing more attention to the skyrocketing costs of drugs like insulin, as soaring prescription drug costs continue to be a top voter concern in polls. 

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Freefaller
1  seeder  Freefaller    2 weeks ago

10 times the cost charged in the country right next door does seem exorbitant.  Normally smaller markets mean greater product costs.

 
 
 
Kavika
1.1  Kavika   replied to  Freefaller @1    2 weeks ago

Drug costs in the U.S. are simply out of control. I have a few relatives that live in northern MN and go to Canada for their drugs at a huge savings. 

Damn that socialized medicine.../s

 
 
 
Freefaller
1.1.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Kavika @1.1    2 weeks ago
Damn that socialized medicine.../s

It is not without its cons but I believe the pros outweigh them

 
 
 
Kavika
1.1.2  Kavika   replied to  Freefaller @1.1.1    2 weeks ago
It is not without its cons but I believe the pros outweigh them

Having lived under both systems, (US and Australia) and with numerous relatives in Canada and Australia I have to agree with you. 

 
 
 
KDMichigan
1.2  KDMichigan  replied to  Freefaller @1    2 weeks ago

That's looking at one drug. I'm not denying the possibility that cost for med's are cheaper in Canada, but not all are cheaper I found with a quick search.

Myozyme is 600k Canadian dollars a year in Canada and 100k to 300k a year USA dollars in the U.S.

I understand the companies right to make a profit to pay for there investment but charging crazy prices for insulin is just wrong. Supply and Demand. 

https://www.statista.com/statistics/712597/most-expensive-drugs-in-canada-by-annual-cost-per-beneficiary/

https://www.therichest.com/business/the-most-expensive-prescription-drugs-in-the-united-states/

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
1.2.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  KDMichigan @1.2    2 weeks ago

My understanding is that Myozyme has been discontinued, no longer used for the rare Pompe disease, because an upgrade called Lumizyme is now being used:

Cost:$626,400 per patient per year.Lumizyme is specialty drug that treats Pompe disease, a genetic disorder characterized by the excess accumulation of glycogen in organ and muscle tissue. Part of what makes lumizyme such an effective treatment for Pompe disease is the glycogen-specific enzymes it contains.

I think it's incorrect to compare the cost of medications used for extremely rare diseases or conditions because there isn't a need for much to be manufactured.  Type I Diabetes is suffered by a big percentage of people in North America so massive dose manufacture is required so the cost reduction is normal.

 
 
 
Kavika
1.2.2  Kavika   replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.2.1    2 weeks ago

Case in point, my neighbor has to use Anoro for COPD. Cost in the US with insurance $3850 per year. Ordered from Canada without insurance, $1040 per year. 

 
 
 
Freefaller
1.2.3  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  KDMichigan @1.2    2 weeks ago
Myozyme is 600k Canadian dollars a year in Canada and 100k to 300k a year USA dollars in the U.S.

Duly noted KD and taking Buzz's comments into consideration that is what I'd expect

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago

It's not the first example of the heartless greed of the pharmaceutical companies in the USA.  Not so long ago there was the example of the epi-pens for allergic reactions.

 
 
 
Freefaller
2.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    2 weeks ago

While I fully support businesses making profits for themselves this (and epi-pens) seems excessive

 
 
 
Split Personality
3  Split Personality    2 weeks ago
While the FDA has cautioned against traveling outside of the U.S. to buy insulin as it cannot ensure the safety or effectiveness of drugs sold outside the country, Nystrom said she had zero concerns. "Let me tell you, I'm going to inject this medication into my body and you will not be seeing a death certificate," she told KARE 11. "It's the exact same insulin."

Fuck the FDA.

 
 
 
Freefaller
3.1  seeder  Freefaller  replied to  Split Personality @3    2 weeks ago

Lol for those kind of savings I gotta agree

 
 
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