West Virginia Residents Leave Country In Search Of Cheap Insulin

“Insulin isn't something you can go without, or skip when you can't afford it.”


The United States ranked #1 in the global median drug price list, making it the world’s most expensive nation to buy prescription medications. Unfortunately, many Americans find prescription drugs, including insulin, too expensive to afford.

A group of people from West Virginia has left the country and gone to Canada on Sunday to find affordable insulin. In Canada, insulin prices are ten times less than insulin prices in the United States.

In fact, no prescription is required to buy insulin in Canada, making it easy for people to get the life-saving medication.

According to Charleston Gazette-Mail, more than 15 percent of people in West Virginia rely on insulin to treat type diabetes.

In 2016, a person with type 1 diabetes spent about $6,000 for insulin, according to the Health Care Cost Institute. Since then, the prices have only increased, which has made it difficult for people, including those who are insured, to afford it.

Tammy Owen, a volunteer with the West Virginia Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, said, “Insulin isn’t something you can go without, or skip when you can’t afford it. For someone with diabetes, it’s like air. Like water. It’s a basic need, and there are barriers in place that make it inaccessible for many.”

Some state health care activists organized the trip from Morgantown to Canada, which was supported by some delegates, including Barbara Fleischauer, who said the group held news conferences across West Virginia, where people heard about the skyrocketing insulin prices.

Fleischauer, who is a Democratic member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, wrote in an email, “It is really shocking how much some people, especially type 1 diabetics, are having to pay for life-saving medicine. I do not use the word shocking often, but hearing these personal stories has really affected me.”

She is planning to introduce a bill next year to reduce insulin prescription copays. Such a bill has already been passed in Colorado. This showcases the failings of the US health care system, especially when it comes to high drug prices across the nation, affecting people with chronic medical conditions.