Insulin caravan gathers members before traveling to Canada

World Today

An insulin caravan continues its journey through the U.S. state of Minnesota to Canada. The group includes diabetes sufferers, who are looking to buy affordable insulin in Canada at a fraction of the price back home.

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.

A hundred kilometers into the road trip, 1,200 kilometers to go.

Members of this so-called ‘insulin caravan’ are busy making protest signs as they travel from Minneapolis to London, Canada.

The group includes about a dozen Americans, many suffering from Type 1 diabetes. They intend to buy insulin once they reach their destination, but this is also a journey to highlight the rising costs of the lifesaving drug. The price of insulin in Canada is a tenth of that in the United States.

Among those on the bus, Nicole Smith-Holt. Her son, Alec, died a few weeks after his 26th birthday.

“To me, it’s symbolic. It’s in memory of my son who two years ago yesterday passed away from rationing his insulin because he couldn’t afford it. So it is going to Canada and showing the world that in every other country but the United States of America, you can buy affordable insulin,” Smith-Holt said.

This road trip will go through the U.S. states of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan before crossing over to Canada and onto London, Ontario.

A century ago, patients with Type 1 diabetes did not live long. But that changed in the early 1920s when researchers discovered a way to extract and purify insulin.

The patent was sold to the University of Toronto for only a dollar. Researchers, including Frederick Banting, wanted insulin to be available to those in need.

“He believed that insulin belonged to the world, not to him. And he did not want to make some huge profit He didn’t want to become rich and famous off of the work that he had done. He wanted to be able to save people’s lives. And the fact of the matter is, his legacy is not showing that they are dying from not having access to insulin, 100 years later,” said Allison Nimlos a insulin caravan member.

This trip is about more than just a group looking to save some money. It’s about shining the spotlight on an issue with life and death consequences.