Minnesota Group Travels to Canada by Bus to Buy $34 Insulin That Would Cost $380 in America

A group of Minnesota diabetics recently traveled to Canada to purchase $34 insulin that would cost $380 in America.

Roughly one dozen Minnesotans traveled by bus from Twin Cities to London, Ontario last Friday to purchase insulin for a fraction of its cost in the U.S. The group reportedly made the trip, in part, to raise awareness and criticize the fast-growing costs of medical care in America.

"This one was purchased in Canada for $34 and this one in the United States for $380," Deb Souther, a member of the group, told Fox 9. "Here in the United States, people are having to choose between, 'Do I pay my rent or do I buy my insulin?'"

During her trip to Canada, Souther bought a three-month supply of insulin, the maximum amount that can be purchased without a prescription from a local doctor. Souther told Fox 9 that the cost of insulin under her family's new insurance policy would total nearly $1,000 per month.

"If I'm a few hours without insulin, I start to feel very sick. If I'm a few days without insulin, I could die," she said. "It's unbelievable that we can just go across the border and get the insulin for this price... 3 months' supply and save thousands and thousands of dollars."

The bus ride from Twin Cities to London, Ontario took 15 approximately hours, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, who accompanied the group on their journey.

"We should not have to leave the United States... to be able to afford insulin," Rosemary Enobakhare, the trip's organizer, told the newspaper.

"I think drawing attention to how unaffordable insulin is in the United States is a step toward change," Kristen Hoastson, of Maple Grove, who made the trip to gather insulin for her 11-year-old son, added.

When the group arrived in Canada, the first pharmacy rejected the group's attempts to purchase the drug, citing fears of backlash from pharmaceutical companies in light of the media attention that their trip had garnered. The second pharmacy was unable to meet the group's large order.

Their third attempt, at a Walmart pharmacy in London, was successful.

A vial of insulin, which typically lasts patients around 10 days, costs around $300 in America. However, in Canada, the same vial can be purchased for just $30, one tenth of the cost.

The price of insulin almost doubled from 2012 to 2016, according to Health Care Cost Institute, with diabetics in 2012 spending an average of $2,864 on the drug and $5,705 in 2016.

Insulin Diabete
File photo: Vials of insulin belonging to David Burns, 38, who has type 1 diabetes, are photographed in his home in North London on February 24, 2019. A group of people from Minnesota traveled to Canada by bus to buy insulin for $34 that costs $380 in America. Niklas Halle'n/Getty