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November 16, 2018
Protesters link high prices, insulin-rationing deaths to Cambridge drug corporation Sanofi
Mothers deliver ashes of deceased children with diabetes
BOSTON – On Friday, November 16th, local patients, doctors, nurses, students, and community members protested at the Sanofi drug corporation in Cambridge to demand an immediate 90 percent reduction in the price of Lantus insulin to $30.
Sanofi is one of the “big three” insulin manufacturers that are charging up to a 5,000 percent mark-up on their products and creating a massive financial burden for the millions of Americans living with diabetes who rely on the medicine to maintain their health. People with type 1 diabetes have the most at stake; they will die without insulin.
“The profit margins Sanofi makes on insulin are obscene and come at the expense of American lives,” said Dr. Vikas Saini, co-chair of the Right Care Alliance (RCA), lead organizers of the protest. “Insulin has been around for 100 years and can be produced for five dollars—no American should die because they can’t afford it.”
To deal with rising costs, many people have resorted to crowdfunding, using expired insulin, or the extremely dangerous practice of rationing—cutting doses to make the medicine last longer. Antroinette Worsham and Nicole Smith-Holt, two mothers who lost their children last year, traveled to the protest from out-of-state to deliver the ashes of their children to Sanofi officials.
“Sanofi’s high prices are killing people like my son Alec,” said Smith-Holt. “I’m sick of them listening to my story and then doing nothing. I’m not asking them to lower prices anymore, I’m demanding it.”
“They refuse to lower prices even though they know more people like my daughter Antavia will die,” said Worsham. “Lowering prices is the only way to save lives, but they don’t seem to care.”
This event was part of a series of actions taken by the RCA in Massachusetts to fight back against the high price of insulin. They visited Sanofi earlier this year, delivering a five-foot-tall “Mother’s Day” card to the offices of Dr. Gary Nabel, senior vice-president at Sanofi, asking him to pledge that “no more sons or daughters will die because they can’t afford insulin.” And over the summer, they delivered a letter to Governor Baker signed by 500 local health care professionals demanding he take action on insulin prices.
The DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), PNHP (Physicians for a National Health program), Harvard Medical School Racial Justice Coalition, SEIU, and other organizations also played roles in organizing the protest at Sanofi.
In addition to demanding lower prices, protesters are calling on the governor, the legislature, and all health plans in Massachusetts to ensure that insulin and other essential medications are made free to all patients who need them.
About Nicole Smith-Holt: Nicole is from Minnesota and became an advocate following the death of her son Alec Raeshawn Smith in June 2017.
About Antroinette Worsham:Antroinette is from Ohio and founded a nonprofit (T1 Diabetes Journey) following the death of her daughter Antavia Lee-Worsham in April 2017.
About the Right Care Alliance: The Right Care Allianceis a grassroots coalition of clinicians, patients, and community members organizing to make health care institutions accountable to communities and put patients, not profits, at the heart of health care.
Learn more at www.RightCareAlliance.org