A group known as the ‘insulin caravan’ are struggling for cheaper insulin and their lives

World Today

Setting off on a 13,000-kilometer journey from the U.S. state of Minnesota the so-called ‘insulin caravan’ arrived at London in southwest Ontario, Canada.

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.

The majority of the passengers have Type One diabetes. Their goal is to buy the life-saving drug insulin in Canada at a tenth of the price it would cost in the U.S. They hope to draw attention to the huge price discrepancy and what’s being called an insulin crisis.

“One vial of insulin costs sells for $340 in the United States. This increase in price is 1200 percent. We have people dying in America. We are one of the wealthiest countries in the world. We are dying,” said Quinn Nystrom, the Insulin Caravan organizer.

Among those in the group is Nicole Smith-Holt. Her son died just over two years ago. He was rationing his insulin because of the substantial cost of the drug. The difference in price is the result of issues ranging from regulations and patents to insurance and government subsidies.

“Until we found out that it was because of rationing because he couldn’t afford it. I was just angry at the disease in general. But then when I found out how he died from Type One, I was so hurt. It’s hard to put into words, but I was extremely hurt that the system failed my family,” said Nicole Smith-Holt, on of the Insulin Caravan members.

As the journey continued through Wisconsin, members busily prepared protest signs. Finally, having reached Ontario, it was time to collect the insulin order.

Participants then held a news conference at Banting House. It is here, in 1920 that Frederick Banting helped discover insulin.

“We will not give up. We will fight until we have affordable and accessible insulin for everybody worldwide.”

So 1300 kilometers later, a trip that began in Minneapolis, ends at the birthplace of insulin.

And for most of those in the caravan, it has been an emotional journey.

“I am up here demanding justice for his death,” said Nicole Smith-Holt, another Insulin Caravan member, “The emotions are a rollercoaster right now. There’s absolutely no reason in this entire world that insulin should be rationed. Nobody should be compromising their health because it is not affordable. We need to do something before more lives are lost.”

For Nicole, two years and two days since the death of her son Alec, there is anger and frustration.

It has been a long journey for this ‘caravan.’ But organizers say, this is just the start of their fight for more affordable insulin.