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As price of insulin soars, Americans caravan
to Canada for lifesaving medicine

Original Article

Posted By: Pluperfect, 6/17/2019 4:44:57 AM

As their minivan rolled north, they felt their nerves kick in — but they kept on driving. At the wheel: Lija Greenseid, a rule-abiding Minnesota mom steering her Mazda5 on a cross-border drug run. Her daughter, who is 13, has Type 1 diabetes and needs insulin. In the United States, it can cost hundreds of dollars per vial. In Canada, you can buy it without a prescription for a tenth of that price. So, Greenseid led a small caravan last month to the town of Fort Frances, Ontario, where she and five other Americans paid about $1,200 for drugs that would have cost them $12,000 in the United States.

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Reply 1 - Posted by: Ozwestie 6/17/2019 5:37:54 AM (No. 99737)
That’s disgraceful to charge that amount of money for meds that are keeping these people alive. I had a dog with diabetes for 5 years and it cost me $50 per month for his insulin from the vet. If he had been a human it would have cost me much less on our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
3 people like this.

Reply 2 - Posted by: Hermit_Crab 6/17/2019 5:42:21 AM (No. 99738)
Yep. In the U.S. my blood pressure medicine costs $6.00 a tablet if you use "GoodRX"... Eight bucks a tablet otherwise. I order it it online from Canada and it costs eighty cents a tablet (and that includes the $10.00 shipping charge) I was a little leery of doing so at first, but it has saved me a heck of a lot of money over the last three or four years.
5 people like this.

Reply 3 - Posted by: valinva 6/17/2019 7:18:54 AM (No. 99771)
The story is somewhat misleading. It is only certain types of insulin that are high priced. You can still buy insulin without a prescription at Walmart for $25 a vial. It is not the kind that goes in the fancy injector pens and has to be injected using the old fashioned syringes but it is available.
8 people like this.

Reply 4 - Posted by: Sunhan65 6/17/2019 7:28:53 AM (No. 99776)
A few false statements in the article. Some Canadian provinces still require prescriptions. And you can buy normal regular short term insulin without a prescription in Washington state (although some of their pharmacists don't know that). Texas is still being uncharacteristically stupid and requires a prescription to buy both insulin and the pen cap needles (which is idiotic since the only thing these needles can be used for is insulin). Whenever a pharmacist asks me for a prescription to buy insulin, I ask them how many recreational insulin users they think are out there. They don't think that's as funny as I do. The really dumb ones warn me that insulin is a dangerous chemical. This makes me laugh even more because a type 1 diabetic on any given day has enough insulin on their person to kill a human being. (The hard part is getting peopke to sit still while you load and inject 100 units into them.) Either way, it is true that insulin is dramatically more expensive in the US. This is because Canadian healthcare is a single-payer system where the government negotiates massive quantities at substantially-discounted rates. There are significant trade-offs to going down this road. I say this from time to time, and I apologize if it's tedious. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 17 and soon found myself injecting 24 units of rapid-acting insulin with each meal. To lose weight 2 years ago, I went on the ketogenic diet, which is a fancy name for eating as few carbs as possible. I now inject between 4 and 6 units of rapid-acting insulin per meal. My insulin consumption is one-fourth what it used to be. There are trade off here too, of course, but it's worth a look.
11 people like this.

Reply 5 - Posted by: WAN2 6/17/2019 9:03:08 AM (No. 99847)
The less insulin taken the healthier the diabetic. Enter low carbing.
1 person likes this.

Reply 6 - Posted by: Strike3 6/17/2019 9:12:58 AM (No. 99853)
Why not identify the lady, her car and location so the Border Patrol can grab her next time, you ditz.
0 people like this.

Reply 7 - Posted by: jeffkinnh 6/17/2019 10:10:44 AM (No. 99914)
The cost of medication is a complex issue. Sure, we could cap prices and profits. You know all those miracle drugs, some of which a LOT of people are on and provide for long and healthy lives? Bye bye. Without the profit from the sales of existing medications, there is no funding for the massive cost of R&D for new medications, many of them that never make it to market. Here's a tidbit from a 2016 article, "Although the US produces about 22% of the global GDP and accounts for 4% of the world's population, it accounts for 44% of global biomedical R&D expenditures". We are spending far above our share in developing new drugs. A good part of that is done through private industry financed through profits. The whole world benefits. However, as with a lot of things, the US is being played as a sucker. We go to sell the medications in foreign countries and they "negotiate" prices for their country. That "negotiated" price is NOT fair to the US. Those countries skip out on much of the massive R&D costs and their meds are therefore MUCH cheaper. What we should do is, as a Country, negotiate with the other countries of the world for fair treatment as to the costs of developing medications. It could be a sliding scale that compensates more for the newer drugs and declines as the medication has been around for a while, eventually phasing out. This R&D "fee" would go directly to the US companies that discovered the drugs, even after patents expire. For that matter, it should work for all medication discoverers. If a government funded the discovery, they should be reimbursed to maintain the funds required for the next generation of discovery. Let sales fund the R&D. And here's another little secret. In 2011 - 2017, 87% of 220 new medications (that were tracked in the study) were available to US patients (the most of any country). Only 48% of these new medications were available to Canadian patients. Why? Because we are willing to pay for them. Those new medications make an enormous difference to the US patients that need them. Could we do better on pricing. Most certainly. Is it as simple an issue as capping prices? It is if you are a socialist but it isn't if you actually want good healthcare.
3 people like this.

Reply 8 - Posted by: justavoter 6/17/2019 10:36:57 AM (No. 99937)
Hey #5, low carbs may be a way out for Type II diabetics, but for Type I, you are insulin dependent. And for the Type I's out there, the $25 stuff from Wal-Mart ain't going to work. 5 vials of insulin from Wal-Mart (the real stuff) $1570, 5 vials of insulin from Canada, $270. Yea, we got a drug problem in the US. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.
2 people like this.

Reply 9 - Posted by: Sunhan65 6/17/2019 11:33:13 AM (No. 99989)
#8 is correct. Type I diabetics will require insulin no matter what. Going to low carb diet doesn't cure Type I. However, it can (at least in my case) dramatically reduce the amount of rapid-acting insulin you need to take. That helps in two ways: First, low blood sugars caused by too much insulin become less frequent and less severe. Second, you need less insulin and spend less money on it. My overall control improved significantly as well. None of this was why I did it. I just wanted to lose weight and ended up losing 68.6 lbs in just over 15 months. Plus, I enjoy most of the food. I miss do pasta, though. (Rao's marinara is actually reasonably low carb, but I refuse to waste it on phony noodles.)
1 person likes this.

Reply 10 - Posted by: DVC 6/17/2019 11:47:22 AM (No. 100000)
My first question is "Why have US insulin prices increased?" One guess is to recover costs when Canada forces down the prices below the proper market prices, so they have to raise them in the USA to make up the difference and stay in business. Say insulin cost should be $100 a vial. But Canada uses government strong arm policies to force it down to $50 a vial. So, $50 is lost on each vial sold in Canada. What to do? Raise the US price to $150 a vial to make up for the under cost insulin being sold in Canada. Bet that this is a factor. And also bet that the lawsuits where US lawyers make $500 million on a BS case of 'wrongful death' or whatever, add up to force the pharma companies to have to recover their huge lawsuit costs by raising prices, too. Sure, some is just price gouging, but if there is enough competition in the market and the government and lawyers keep their slimy hands off, the prices will settle down. When govenrmen forces companies out of markets, creates artificial shortages and forces prices down (like in Canada) they really make things a LOT worse. Canada is NO hero in this, they are thieves stealing money from the pharma companies by forcing the prices down. And we, in the USA get to make up the slack. The same thing happens in Europe, too. Prices forced down by socialist governmentts, so they make up in the only reasonably free market left, in the USA, and we get soaked, basically subsidizing the rest of the world's drug prices.
2 people like this.

Reply 11 - Posted by: TrueBlueWfan 6/17/2019 3:26:12 PM (No. 100115)
I don't know about insulin, but now private insurers don't cover asthma maintenance drugs anymore. One month's worth can cost upwards of $600. We order from Canada and get 3 months worth for $121. Same medicine. It takes about 3 weeks to get here because they get it from Europe, but it has saved us thousands. Shame on insurance companies for not covering this. Thanks Obamacare - for nothing!
2 people like this.

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