Monday, June 17, 2019

Insulin - the latest smuggling drug of choice for Americans

Insulin isn't like other drugs. It's a natural hormone that controls blood sugar levels - too high causes vision loss, confusion, nausea, and organ failure; too low leads to heart irregularities, mood swings, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Our bodies produce insulin naturally. But for Type 1 diabetics, insulin comes in clear glass vials - if they can afford it.

In 1923, the discoverers of insulin sold its patent for $1, hoping the low price would keep insulin available to everyone. Now, retail prices in the US are around the $300 range from the three major brands that control the market. Stories of Americans rationing insulin - and dying for lack of ability to pay for it - have been making headlines.
Lija Greenseid isn't your usual drug smuggler. She's a law-abiding Minnesota mom with a diabetic child. She steered her Mazda5 on a cross-border drug run with scores of others. She was part of a caravan of desperate people who can buy insulin without a prescription for 1/10 the price in Canada.

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes. About 7.5 million, including 1.5 million with Type 1 diabetes, rely on insulin.