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‘This is a solvable issue’: Pricey insulin has Americans trekking to Canada in ‘caravans’ – National

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This is a solvable issue’ Pricey insulin has Americans trekking to Canada in ‘caravans’ National

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In the face of rising drug costs, some Americans say they are driving north of the border to purchase the exact same medicine for a fraction of the price.

Americans living with Type 1 diabetes are raising awareness about the pricey problem through an online campaign using the hashtags #CaravanToCanada and #insulinforall.

READ MORE: ‘I’m tired of hiding’ — What it’s like to date while living with diabetes

One insulin user from Minnesota, Quinn Nystrom, documented her five-hour trek for insulin on Twitter.

Nystrom said that she bought a nearly identical product — one vial of insulin from Novo Nordisk — that cost US$320 in the U.S. and $30 in Canada.

“Where have we gone wrong America?!?” she tweeted.

“We should be ashamed as a country that this is a solvable issue, and nothing has been done to make it more affordable.”

A standard vial of the NovoRapid insulin pictured below costs C$37 at Shoppers Drug Mart located in Toronto.

Seema Nagpal, who works with Diabetes Canada, told Global News that it’s difficult to put an exact number on insulin pricing in Canada. While there is a “ceiling price” set by regulations, she said the market price varies across provinces, between insurance plans and at individual pharmacies.

But Nagpal noted that the U.S. does see some of the highest insulin pricing.

“That ceiling provides some protection to Canadians for the extremely high prices that we see in the United States,” she said.

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The U.S. Senate launched a bipartisan investigation into the high prices earlier this year. The probe is looking into three insulin products that dominate the market: Eli Lilly’s Humalog, Novo Nordisk’s Novolog and Sanofi’s Lantus.

According to the Senate, Humalog costs US$234, Novolog is sold for $540 and Lantus is $431.

Many of the groups travelling to Canada are affiliated with T1International, a U.S.-based advocacy organization for those with Type 1 diabetes.

Elizabeth Pfiester, who founded the organization, explained that the average person with the medical condition needs at least one or two vials of insulin per month.

“So, obviously, these costs are just adding up dramatically for people with the condition who already have a lot to worry about,” she told Global News,

Many Americans don’t have insurance plans that provide adequate coverage, Pfiester added.

Pfiester explained that while the group doesn’t organize the so-called caravans itself, some members of the organization “semi-regularly” travel to Canada for insulin as a last resort. Other members also travel to Mexico for insulin.

The FDA permits U.S. residents to bring medication for personal use across the border but not more than a three-month supply.

WATCH: Nova Scotia man walks across Canada to raise awareness for diabetes





“We really want to make it clear that many people don’t have a second option,” she said. “We know people have to sacrifice rent or food or gas or student loans payments, all because the cost of insulin is so high.”

She noted that Type 1 diabetes patients recognize that this isn’t a “long-term solution” and not something T1International would encourage people to do on a regular basis.

“But we understand the desperation that people are feeling,” Pfiester said, noting that not having proper doses of insulin leads to painful side effects or even death.

Karyn Wofford with the supplies she bought in Canada.

Karyn Wofford

Karyn Wofford recently made the trek to Canada, flying first from her home in Georgia to Seattle, then taking a flight to Vancouver.

Wofford, who has had diabetes since she was 12 years old, told Global News that the cost has risen dramatically since she first started needing insulin.

“I would classify my husband and myself as very average; we both work. But we actually live with my mom just so we can afford my diabetes supplies,” she said.

In the U.S., Wofford spends $1,500 for Humalog insulin and another $1,700 for Lantus every three months.

In Canada, her purchase of two boxes of Humalog cost her $700 — she noted the same insulin would have cost her $2,500 in the U.S.

Karyn Wofford and her husband.

Karyn Wofford

While going to Canada for insulin takes some load off those with Type 1 diabetes, Wofford says she knows it’s not a solution and she often worries about the legality.

“Is there going to be a way that they block us from going to Canada to get it? I think a lot of people have found their lifeline in Canada,” she said.

Rising cost of insulin in U.S.

The rising price of insulin, which is essential to the well-being of those living with diabetes, in the United States is well documented.

An analysis conducted by Reuters found that the price nearly doubled over a five-year period.

It found that the average Type 1 diabetes patient spent US$5,705 on insulin in 2016. In 2012, they spent roughly half that amount at $2,864. The means that for the average patient, who uses 60 units of insulin per day, the daily cost went from $7.80 to $15.

The figures represent the combined amount paid by a patient and their health plan for the medicine and do not reflect rebates paid at a later date.

The rising cost of insulin has also led to protests in the U.S.

WATCH: Eating cheese might help with Type 2 diabetes





Insulin prices around the world and in Canada

An estimated 100 million people need insulin across the globe.

A September 2018 study published in medical journal BMJ Global Health noted that the high price of insulin prevents people in several countries from accessing the necessary medicine.

It explained that three companies control 96 per cent of the global insulin market, and few medicines similar to it are available.

The study predicted that if the insulin market was competitive, human insulin prices could fall to an annual cost of $48 to $71 per person and $78 to $133 for analog insulin.

WATCH: Diabetics warned over digital insulin pumps being hacked





While U.S. residents may be travelling to Canada for cheaper insulin, Nagpal explained that there are still concerns about affordability for Canadians.

“(This) shouldn’t be taken to mean that drug costs are not a problem in Canada; it’s quite the opposite,” she noted.

Nagpal pointed to a 2015 survey by Diabetes Canada, which found that 25 per cent of people with the condition couldn’t take the exact treatments they were prescribed by their physician because of the cost.

“So they either don’t refill their prescription because it was too costly, or some try to stretch out their prescription by taking a lower dose,” she said.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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FOREIGN NEWS

Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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FOREIGN NEWS

Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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