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The trip was sponsored by the Senator’s campaign with the aim of denouncing the growing cost of prescription drugs in the U.S.
United States Senator and Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 elections, Bernie Sanders, accompanied Sunday families and members of the advocacy group Insulin4All, to Canada seeking to procure their insulin which is unaffordable in the U.S.
Kathy Sego and her son Hunter 22, who suffers type 1 diabetes, bought six months-worth of insulin from a pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario, spending a little more than US$1,000.
“That’s still less than what I pay for a month in the United States,” Sego said, fighting back tears. She would have paid more than US$1,400 in the U.S. for a one-month supply, in spite of having insurance.
Unable to afford a medicine that his life depends on, her son Hunter would have been forced to ration his doses, a potentially deadly practice that is becoming more and more frequent in the country.
Quinn Nystrom, is also a type 1 diabetic who organizes caravans out of Minnesota, said of knowing people who lost limbs, who have been hospitalized or even died as a result of rationing medicine.
“Insulin is our oxygen,” Nystrom added, explaining that bus trips to Canada are not a viable long-term solution as many cannot afford to take a day off of work or find the fee to apply for a passport.
“How does it happen 10 minutes away from the American border in Michigan, people here are paying one-10th of the price for the vitally important drug they need to stay alive?” Sanders asked, calling the disparity a “national embarrassment”.
The trip was sponsored by the Senator’s campaign with the aim of highlighting the growing cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. which is the consequence of “incredible corruption and greed” on the part of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, according to the candidate who vowed to appoint, if elected president, an attorney general to investigate the pharmaceutical industry.
I just boarded the bus in Detroit with diabetics, on our way to Windsor, Canada, to buy affordable insulin.
Americans are paying $300 for insulin. In Canada they can purchase it for $30. We are going to end pharma’s greed. pic.twitter.com/PuR520Y7Qy
“We should be doing what the Canadians do, and that means sitting down with the drug companies and negotiating a price,” said Sanders who spoke at length with the families.
The Senator also said the U.S. government should set drug prices according to the prices in six different countries including Canada. He also called for the government to allow drug importations in order to reduce costs.
“I believe we should be able to import into the United States from Canada, and from other countries, FDA-approved medicine, which would substantially lower prices,” he stated.
Several U.S. states have passed laws to allow imports, but shipments would not be legal without federal approval. The Health and Human Services secretary said in early July the government was looking into the issue.
Democrats, seeking to retake the White House next year see president Donald Trump increasingly losing credibility over drug costs and regulation after his administration failed to push through several initiatives to lower medicine prices.