Monday, November 14, 2016

World Diabetes Day 2016

It's World Diabetes Day, and here's something everyone needs to know. 

In 1921, Banting, Best, and Collip, discoverers and purifiers of insulin, sold their discovery to the University of Toronto for $1 apiece, to help humanity in an affordable way without profiting from suffering. There was so much demand for the product -because it, you know, saved lives - that U of T soon signed nonexclusive licenses with drug companies to produce more. This led to the privatization and commercialization of insulin, with Eli Lilly leading the way. Now, in the past decade, insulin costs have skyrocketed in the United States. They have more than tripled. In one decade. People cannot afford this. People are minimizing the amount they take to stay alive. People are dying.

Today, I ordered insulin from my pharmacy. Because I have insurance through my job, I will pay nothing. Because Canada has single-payer, even if I were to be paying, it would be expensive, but it would not be the difference in buying food or making rent. This is also because I am a privileged person, but the fact remains that insulin costs in the US are so out of control that people (even politicians) are starting to speak out, and that I would be terrified to return to a place I could easily call home. (This is not to say that, worldwide, the situation is the worst in the US. There are countries where it is even more difficult to gain access to insulin, but this world is what I know.)

The climate in the US is so toxic right now that I'm sure many believe that me and mine deserve to die if we can't afford insulin, and that the market will bear what it will. I look back almost 100 years, see three men who decided they would take no money from the sick, and I wonder what has happened to the world.

World Diabetes Day is a moment in a lifetime. For many of us, with ever-dwindling hope for a cure, it will always be World Diabetes Day. Please keep this issue in mind in your advocating, voting, and striving for change, as we pick ourselves up and attempt to move forward. If I've learned one thing about living with diabetes, it's that life is a never-ending series of picking yourself up and trying to move forward.