US citizens gather to travel to Canada for cheap medicine

World Today

Some 40 Americans are traveling to Canada this weekend – but not for recreation or pleasure.

Rather, this group means to buy life-saving insulin at a price and convenience that can’t be matched anywhere in the United States.

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports they also want to make a larger point to Washington.

Forming a ‘caravan’ and heading for the border. This chartered bus will travel from Minneapolis, Minnesota, across the border to Canada for a shopping excursion meant to draw attention to a crisis in the United States.

The aim of the passengers, to buy stocks of the lifesaving drug, insulin. Insulin prices can be ten times more expensive in the U.S. than in Canada. The trip is being organized by Quinn Nystrom, a professional speaker, and advocate with Type 1 diabetes.

“How have we seen the price get up to what it is today. Because it is absolutely wrong. It is immoral. And we have people dying and they are going to continue to die until we find a way to lower this list price. We cannot put bandaids on a gunshot wound. Sending people to Canada is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. This is a very short term solution,” said Quinn Nystrom the insulin caravan organizer.

There is some hope for diabetes sufferers.

Minnesota Senator Tina Smith is introducing a bill in the U.S. Congress that will hold insulin manufacturers accountable for excessive increases in the price of insulin.

Her measure would also establish assistance programs. Minnesota state lawmaker Laurie Halverson, who herself has Type 1 diabetes, said the legislation is critical.

“We need this to live on a day-to-day basis. I don’t get through a day without my insulin. I don’t get through an hour without my insulin. So what does it mean for someone who does not have it We are a captive audience. We have to buy this drug. We don’t have a choice. So to gouge people who don’t have a choice is unfair, it is unethical and we need to make a change,” said Laurie Halverson a Minnesota state legislature.

An immediate goal is to stock up on Canada’s affordable insulin but in the long term, the focus is on a more lasting change.