WINDSOR, Ont. — It’s an “embarrassment” that Americans have to travel to Canada in order to buy cheaper medication, said U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Ontario on Sunday.
The Vermont senator travelled to Windsor, Ont., with a group of American diabetics to purchase insulin at a lower cost.
“We love our Canadian neighbours and we thank them so much, but we shouldn’t have to come to Canada,” Sanders told reporters outside of a pharmacy.
Typically, a vial of insulin Type 1 diabetics need to regulate their blood sugar costs about US$340 in the United States, roughly 10 times the price in Canada.
Sanders posted on Twitter this weekend that the high cost for insulin has put the lives of American diabetics at risk.
He has long targeted pharmaceutical companies for the cost of prescription drugs, and he made a similar medication trip to Canada in 1999.
“As Americans, what we have got to ask ourselves is how come the same exact medicine, in this case insulin, is sold here in Canada for one tenth of the price that it is sold in the United States?” said Sanders.
Multiple trips from Americans headed to Canada for cheaper insulin has raised concerns about its supply in Canada, despite insulin tourism being relatively small scale.
Watch: Americans ‘caravan’ to Canada for cheap insulin. Story continues below.
Late last month, a group of Type 1 diabetics from Minnesota crossed the border to buy insulin in London, Ont.
A recent letter from 15 groups representing Canadian patients, health professionals, hospitals, and pharmacists urges the federal government to safeguard the Canadian drug supply.
A spokeswoman for the federal health minister said earlier this month that the government is monitoring the situation.
Current rules allow Americans to take home a maximum three-month personal supply of medicines bought in Canada, and four states have passed legislation allowing for wholesale or individual imports of medications.
Because insulin is non-prescription in Canada, there is no tracking mechanism of how much might be heading south.