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American caravan arrives in Canadian birthplace of insulin for cheaper medicine



TORONTO (Reuters) – A self-declared "caravan" of Americans bussed across the Canada-U.S. border on Saturday, seeking affordable prices for insulin and raising awareness or the insulin price crisis in the United States.

The group called Caravan to Canada started from Minneapolis, Minnesota on Friday, and stopped at London, Ontario on Saturday, to purchase life-saving type 1 diabetes medication at a pharmacy.

The caravan numbers at approximately 20 people, according to Nicole Smith-Holt, a member of the group. Smith-Holt said her 26-year-old son died in June 2017 because he was forced to ration insulin due to the high cost. This is Smith-Holt's second time on the caravan.

Caravan to Canada pulled the border in May for the same reasons, which Holt-Smith said was narrower than the group this week. She said Americans have gone to countries like Mexico and Canada for more affordable medications in the past and continue to do so.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported in May that Canadian pharmacists have seen a "quiet resurgence" in Americans coming to Canada for looking for cheaper pharmaceuticals.

Insulin prices in the United States nearly doubled to an average annual cost of $ 5,705 in 201

6 from $ 2,864 in 2012, according to a study in January.

Quinn Nystrom, a leader of the T1International's Minnesota chapter, said on May via the price of insulin in the United States per vial was $ 320, while in Canada the same medication was under $ 30.

T1International, a non-profit that advocates for increased access to type 1 diabetes medication, has described the situation in U.S. Pat. as an insulin crisis.

"We know that many people can't make this trip because they can afford the costs associated with traveling to another country to buy insulin there," said Elizabeth Pfiester, the executive director of T1International in a press release.

An itinerary states the caravan will stop at the Banting House in London, Ontario later in the day. The Banting House is where Canadian physician and scientist Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin, lived from 1920 to 1921, and is called the "birthplace of insulin", according to the Banting House website.

Smith-Holt said she is hired for long-term solutions in the United States like price caps, anti-gouging laws, patent reform and transparency from pharmaceutical companies.

Tyler Choi, Editing by Franklin Paul


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