Senator Bernie Sanders holds up a vial of medication after visiting The Olde Walkerville Pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario. See story.
Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star
Bernie Sanders was met with an outpour of applause as his bus rolled into Windsor Sunday with a group of American Type 1 diabetics to purchase insulin — at a fraction of the cost.“We love our Canadian neighbours and we thank them so much,” the Vermont senator told the crowd gathered outside The Olde Walkerville Pharmacy on Wyandotte Street. “But we should not have to come to Canada to get the medicine we need for our kids to stay alive.”The United States presidential hopeful and the caravan led by the group Insulin4All crossed the border from Detroit to highlight the price disparity for American medications — who pay among the highest in the world.“There are millions of people who are doing exactly what we are doing here today,” Sanders said. “They’re either going to the internet, they’re going to Canada, they’re going to Mexico, they’re going to Europe to buy exactly the same medicine at a fraction of the price we’re forced to pay.”Sanders called the price variance “an embarrassment,” and blamed corporate greed noting one vial of insulin costs about US$350 to $400, while in Canada the same vial can be purchased for around $36 — about one-tenth the cost.“We’re going to negotiate prices and we will do also what the Canadians do,” Sanders told the crowd about taking on the issue. “They look around the world and see what other countries are paying for various types of prescription drugs and that is what they charge here in Canada.” Senator Bernie Sanders arrives at The Olde Walkerville Pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario with insulin access activists Sunday. See story.The life-saving drug was discovered by Candian medical scientist Frederick Banting with his partner Charles Best. Banting sold the patent rights for insulin to The University of Toronto for $1 allowing the medication to be mass-produced and available to the public.Locals gathered around the pharmacy to see Sanders and support their American neighbours.“People with Type 1 diabetes in the states have to spend up to ten times more for the same insulin that we get here in Canada,” said LaSalle local Paul Whited who’s daughter Clara, 8, has Type 1 diabetes. “We just feel like the prices are way too high to sustain life, and it’s a life-sustaining drug that they have to have every day to live.” Affordable medication supporter Clara Whited, 8, visited The Olde Walkerville Pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario, Sunday. See story.Paul said his family hasn’t had to pay out of pocket for their daughter’s insulin except on a family trip to Flordia where they paid around $300 or $400 for one vial to get through their vacation.“For Type 1s, they need insulin for every single piece of food they put in their mouth,” Rebecca, Clara’s mother, added. “I think that’s something that isn’t very well understood but every single thing she eats she needs insulin — so you do burn insulin quickly.”Kathy Sego, a school teacher from Indiana travelled with Sanders to purchase insulin at the Windsor pharmacy for her son Hunter, who at one point rationed his insulin to lessen the financial blow of his medication’s deductible when he discovered the cost.“I finally understood the burden my family had been taking on and why sometimes the power had been shut off at my house. Or why we hadn’t been able to meet bills and why we had to make due and it was sadly because of my insulin,” Hunter, 22, said. “I rationed my insulin, I ate less, I did whatever I could, that way my family wouldn’t have to keep sacrificing.” Kathy Sego shows a receipt of what she paid for a six month supply of medication for her diabetic son, Hunter, 22, while visiting Windsor. Sego paid about the same amount for a 1 month supply in the U.S. See story.He said as a college football player, this impacted his performance both on the field and in the classroom.“What that does is it eats away at your muscles and fat storage and you’re basically depleting your energy storage so you’re not able to carry out your basic functions throughout your day,” he said.The Segos purchased 25 vials of insulin Sunday, enough to last Hunter six months.“I paid $1000 that’s still less than what I pay a month in the United States,” Kathy said through tears.John George the Olde Walkerville Pharmacy’s operations manager said the store will sometimes get Americans coming in to purchase insulin as it doesn’t require a prescription.“It happens I would say a little bit here and there,” George said. “Maybe once or twice per week, we get people coming in for insulin.” He noted pharmacy’s closer to the border may receive more American customers. Last month, a group of Type 1 diabetics travelled from Minnesota to buy insulin in London Ont., which London local “super big Bernie fans” Danielle Magierowski and Chris Scapinello missed so they took to the Windsor event to support the cause and “Feel the Bern” as per Magierowski’s shirt. Crowd cheers as Senator Bernie Sanders arrives The Olde Walkerville Pharmacy Sunday. See story.“That’s one of the most genuine people I think you’ll ever find in politics,” said Scapinello. The guy’s been saying the exact same thing for 20 years.”Sanders made a similar trip to Montreal nearly 20 years ago, he crossed the border from Vermont with a group of women living with breast cancer to purchase their medication at a much lower cost.“He’s always fighting for the good fight, for the good of other people, not just himself,” said Magierowski. “You can tell he’s in politics for the right reasons.”Sanders, along with two-dozen hopefuls will take the stage at the Fox Theatre in Detroit Tuesday for the Democrats’ second group of debates on July 30 and 31. Senator Bernie Sanders waves good-bye to supporters after visiting The Olde Walkerville Pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario. See firstname.lastname@example.org