Why People with Diabetes Drive for Hours to Buy Insulin in Canada
By Christopher Curley
For Lija Greenseid, the math was simple.
Drive a few hours to pay $56 for a box of Humalog insulin pens for her young daughter with type 1 diabetes or pay as much as $230 at home.
The decision, in fact, was a no-brainer for Greenseid and a group of diabetes advocates and patients who made the trek from Minnesota to Canada to buy insulin in early May.
That trip trended on social media as members documented their experience buying cheaper insulin from their neighbors in the north under the hashtag #CaravanToCanada
. . . Insulin has also become an avatar of the larger fight against rising prescription drug costs in general with both Democrat and Republican politicians proposing solutions, and drug companies themselves offering to self-regulate.
For instance, Democrats have proposed a plan to lower drug prices by tying prescription drug costs to the median drug costs in five other countries.
Meanwhile, President Trump has vocally backed Florida’s plan to reimport drugs from Canada, putting him potentially at odds with Alex Azar, the Health and Human Service Secretary he appointed who once described drug importation as a “gimmick,” Politico reported.
But those approaches are a problem, said Sally C. Pipes, president and chief executive officer as well as a fellow in healthcare policy at the Pacific Research Institute, a California-based think tank that “champions freedom, opportunity, and personal responsibility… by advancing free-market policy solutions.”
For one thing, there’s a safety issue. Pipes pointed out that CanadaDrugs.com was recently fined $34 million for importing counterfeit and unapproved drugs into the United States — not just from Canada but all over the world.
Then, there’s some practical facts.
“Canada cannot be the drugstore for the United States,” Pipes told Healthline. “Canada has 37 million people, fewer than in the state of California.”