‘It is collusion, it is corruption, and it is greed’, says Bernie Sanders in Windsor
Hunter Sego of Indiana had no idea how much his insulin cost his family until he went to the pharmacy for the first time toward the end of his freshman year at Depaul University in Chicago.
He did not know why the hydro was cut off in his family’s home twice. His parents had good jobs. His mother is a teacher, and his father is an engineer.
It was an awful epiphany. The price tag that day at the pharmacy was $1,400.
To save his family their sacrifice, Hunter began to take drastic measures.
“First he tried to starve himself, or cut back on his carbs while he was playing football,” said Kathy Sego to reporters during a trip to the Olde Walkerville Pharmacy in Windsor Sunday. “He found out starving was worse than rationing.”
Hunter began to lose muscle mass, and his grades began to suffer.
Sunday’s trip with Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was not the Sego’s first trip to Canada to buy Hunter’s life-saving medicine. The two also rode a bus from Minnesota to London earlier this year. This time, they drove seven hours from their home to Detroit to join Sanders’ Caravan to Canada, where residents who sympathized with their plight greeted them.
“There are millions of people doing exactly what we are doing here today,” said Sanders inside the pharmacy. “They are 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.”
Sanders’ accuses the three pharmaceutical companies that make insulin of greed, collusion, and corruption. He points to the 1200 per cent increase in the price of insulin over the past 20 years.
Like Hunter, Sahil Mehta has had to find creative ways to afford his medicine. Mehta works full-time as an engineer, owns a dance studio, and works part-time as a DJ to make ends meet.
“My dad does a lot of business in India, as well,” he said. “He goes to India and brings insulin back for me. He can get four times the amount there.”
Over and over, Americans who took the bus with Sanders from Detroit told the same story. Another mother told reporters she was rationing insulin for her two sons and then found out her daughter also had type 1 diabetes.
“Coming to Canada is a trip of privilege,” said Quinn Nystrom who helped organize last month’s trip from Minnesota to London. She noted that the journey only attracted 15 Americans. They were the ones that could afford to travel.
“People who couldn’t afford insulin in America, couldn’t take days off of work,” she said. “They couldn’t get childcare. They can’t afford insulin; they can’t pay for a passport.”
For a mother on this side of the border, the sacrifices American families are making are shocking.
Rebecca Whited came to the pharmacy to welcome the Americans. Her daughter, Clara, also has type 1 diabetes, but the Whited’s experience differs dramatically.
“It’s mind-blowing to me. I don’t feel like we should have to give up anything in life for this disease,” she said. Her husband, Paul, admitted his and his wife’s employee benefits cover even the $30 cost for Clara’s insulin. “The fact that people have to rationing it? That’s so hard with a child.”
Sanders is expected to take part in the first of two Democratic Presidential debates in Detroit Tuesday night. He is one of ten people running for the nomination that will square off that night. Another ten candidates will take part in the second debate on Wednesday night.