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Posts tagged ‘#insulin4all’

Guest Post: #Insulin4All Protest at Lilly

T1International founder Elizabeth Rowley guest posted before the #insulin4life rally in Indianapolis, and today her colleague Karyn Wofford is taking over SUM to share more about the protest itself, their goals, and how the diabetes community can continue to help.

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For nearly 18 years, I’ve had type one diabetes. I’ve been on “life support” via insulin over half of my life. I heard another person with type 1 diabetes refer to it as life support, and that really struck me. When we think of that term, we envision an ill person with breathing tubes, heart monitors and a medical team surrounding them. Diabetics truly are on life support, but it’s invisible to those around us and comes from a small glass vial or plastic pen.

When in my teens, I woke up every day and took what I saw as mere “medicine” to treat my disease. It wasn’t until I grew older and had legitimate fear of not being able to afford insulin, that I no longer thought of it as medicine. I know now it is life.

Speaking out at the #Insulin4all Demonstration

On September 9, I gathered with people with type 1 diabetes, parents, and others who had been directly impacted by diabetes to speak out in front of Eli Lilly Headquarters in Indianapolis. We spoke out against outrageous insulin prices that are likely a result of price gouging and collusion among the “big three” insulin manufacturers. Prices have been jumping in leaps and bounds over the past 20 years, and now have reached a point where patients are paying more than their mortgage to foot the monthly bill. Lives have been lost so these companies can pull in sickeningly high profits.

T1International served as the primary organizer of the event, while People of Faith for Access to Medicines (PFAM) was a huge contributor whose representatives went above and beyond to make everything happen without a hitch.

Just a few years ago, I started becoming much more vocal about having type 1 diabetes. I’d finally realized that there was so much I could do to raise awareness and educate people about the kind of diabetes I have, type one. Awareness is an invaluable tool in our fight for affordable insulin, because there is great misconception that type ones can just stop eating sugar to “treat” or “fix” our diabetes. Of course, this is untrue. No one’s body can survive without insulin, and people with type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin, so the medicine in essential to us. Insulin = life. I was able to voice this at the demonstration, along with my personal struggles.

A Community Uniting

At the demonstration, I was moved hearing the stories of Mike Hoskins and Angela Lautner, who also have type one diabetes. Instantly, I felt a connection with them, and an overwhelming sense of community amongst all those who attended. The energy in the crowd was contagious; people who’d only met moments before were lending shoulders to cry on and unifying as a force. I think we all realized something really special had been ignited, and we are eager to keep pushing forward.

Clever chants and signs were aimed at the enormous central Eli Lilly building across the street. One protestor toted a Frederick Banting doll, while others wore shirts with phrases such as “give me insulin or give me death”. Everyone was loud, powerful and to the point, with no fuss or crazy antics. We didn’t want to cause anger, we wanted to provoke thought. A powerful message executed with passion and constructiveness was the core of the rally.

I heard many stories, like the one of a grandmother caring for her preschool-aged, type one grandson. Her life is consumed fighting for his rights and ensuring he has a future. Another mother was there with one of her three diabetic children. I struggle with the costs of only myself; I can’t imaging paying three times that amount.

The Impact

Local Indianapolis news cameras and reporters were amongst the group, and our cries to Eli Lilly were amplified. A response was released from Eli Lilly later that night:

“We are pleased that people in the diabetes community are engaged in this issue and demonstrations are one way to do so. It will take continued effort across the healthcare system to affect real change and Lilly is committed to working with others to make it happen. This topic sparks a passionate response from people who are affected and we are committed to finding solutions. Lilly has been an active participant in the insulin access dialogue for a long time, and that work will continue. In the last year, we have introduced a number of initiatives to help reduce the amount people pay at the pharmacy until broader changes occur.”

It is encouraging that we caught their attention and received a response, but people with diabetes know that current programs are only short-term fixes, or “bandaids”, as noted by an Eli Lilly Representative. On the day, we asked for three things, and we continue to ask Eli Lilly and the other insulin manufacturers to address them.

  1. Be transparent about how much it costs to make one vial of Humalog insulin
  2. Be transparent about your profits from each vial
  3. Lower the price of insulin

We are hopeful we can achieve this, especially as we ensure that the nation understands what exactly it means to have type one diabetes, or to be insulin dependent. We hope that our next stops will include New Jersey based insulin companies Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, as they are as much to blame as Eli Lilly.

A fire is burning in the hearts of those impacted by insulin prices, and with six million Americans depending on insulin to survive, this movement is anticipated to become an uprising people can longer look away from. The Eli Lilly #insulin4all demonstration has moved the online initiatives to in-person confrontation that cannot be ignored. If more and more people take a stand, we can make lower insulin prices a reality.

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Karyn Wofford is a writer, type 1 diabetic and advocate. She’s had diabetes for nearly 18 years and now serves as an advocate for T1International. Her goal is to raise awareness about her disease, while providing support for fellow people with diabetes through her writing.  

Guest Post: People with Diabetes are Demonstrating for #insulin4all

Today’s guest post comes from Elizabeth Rowley, director of T1International – an organization working towards sustainable access and affordability of insulin, diabetes supplies, medical care and education for all people living with type 1 diabetes.  They are planning a protest at Eli Lilly on September 9th, and Elizabeth is borrowing SUM today to share the who, what, where, and why of that plan.

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The diabetes community has watched in agony as the prices of insulin have increased again and again, with the most recent outrageous increase of 7.8% by Eli Lilly. To get right down to it, the list price of Humalog was $274.70 per a vial as of May 2017. That’s a price increase of 1123% since June 1996.

Insulin manufacturers keep the cost of insulin production a tightly-guarded secret, but U.S. prices are likely hundreds of times higher than the cost of making the drug. Patients in the U.S. and internationally have died due to an inability to afford insulin, and physicians report seeing an increasing number of insulin-deprived patients coming into emergency rooms in crisis. The insulin price increases have been called “price-gouging, plain and simple” by U.S. Senators and a “racket” by an endocrinologist writing in the New York Times.

We in the diabetes community have expressed our frustration online, in meetings with these companies, and in numerous blog posts. T1International has also had conversations with some of the “big three” insulin producers about insulin affordability, but unsurprisingly we were met with standard PR responses and blame shifting. Some of our other attempts to talk have been ignored, but the diabetes community as a whole has been talking to Lilly and others about these issues for a long time. Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk know that people are outraged, suffering and dying because insulin costs too much.

I think most of us can agree that none of the concerns that have been expressed have been taken seriously enough. Taking patients concerns seriously does not mean somber conversations, hosting forums with advocates or creating limited charity programs. It means actually making insulin affordable and not wringing every last dollar of profit out of desperate people. It means putting people before profits because pharma’s prices are putting people in danger.

That is why an #insulin4all demonstration is being held outside of Eli Lilly’s headquarters in Indianapolis on September 9th. People with diabetes are demanding change.

Specifically, we are asking Eli Lilly for three things:

  1. Be transparent about how much it costs to make one vial of Humalog insulin
  2. Be transparent about your profits from each vial
  3. Stop the immoral act of price-gouging and lower the price of insulin

graphic provided by T1International

Why Eli Lilly, you ask? The location of our partner organizations, People of Faith for Access to Medicines and Public Citizen in Indiana, makes Lilly a good first target. On September 8th, in solidarity with the protesters, we will also be holding an online day of action about insulin pricing – addressing all three players in the insulin market.

We know that Novo Nordisk and Sanofi are just as much a part of the problem as Eli Lilly, and that all of them must be held accountable. We are very open to planning something similar outside Novo and Sanofi in the future, so if you want to help organize, please get in touch!

These companies’ business models are dependent on government decisions about regulations and bulk purchases of their products, so the companies absolutely will provide transparency and lower prices if the people and their representatives demand it. This demonstration can amplify our cries and raise public awareness that the price gouging must be reined in. We believe the momentum will continue to build, and we hope you will join us in speaking out.

If you are planning to attend the Indiana demonstration or want to stay up to date with the event, join us on Facebook in our #insulin4all Action group.

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Elizabeth Rowley is the Director of T1International. She was born in the United States and has lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 25 years. Elizabeth moved to London in 2011 to complete her Master’s degree in International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science and she founded T​1​International in 2013. T1International’s aim is to unite the diabetes community and advocate for equal access to insulin, diabetes supplies, medical care and education for all people living with type 1 diabetes, no matter where they live. Elizabeth believes that where you were born should not determine whether you live or die with diabetes, and she is confident that by working together we can find long-term solutions.

 

 

#Insulin4All: A Chat with Elizabeth Rowley.

Last week at the International Diabetes Federation’s World Congress in Vancouver, I had a chance to briefly reconnect with Elizabeth Rowley from T1D International.  We talked about the #Insulin4All campaign and the work she and her team are doing to help provide access to people with diabetes around the globe, and how our online community can work together to improve lives across the globe.  Today, she’s sharing some of her thoughts on how we can change the world for PWD.

Thanks for taking the time to talk today, Elizabeth!  I see that the #Insulin4All was popular on World Diabetes Day again this year.  Can you tell me more about that campaign? 

The #insulin4all campaign was started last year by a network of organisations called the Access Alliance that are passionate about access to insulin, diabetes supplies, care, and education for all people with type 1 diabetes.

World Diabetes Day (WDD) started in 1991 in order to “draw attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world” and has since become a huge day in the diabetes community for raising awareness about diabetes. The Access Alliance felt that while WDD is a wonderful thing, the true spirit of the day had been somewhat lost because people around the entire globe with diabetes were often forgotten. We wanted to do something more. So many people living with type 1 diabetes struggle to survive because they cannot afford or access their life-saving insulin, blood glucose strips, or basic healthcare. Others are caught in conflict where there is little humanitarian assistance for people with diabetes.

The aim of the campaign is to unite as a diabetes and global community to show governments, companies, and individuals that we recognize the problems mentioned above. It’s important that we stand together to work towards tangible solutions. The campaign gets bigger each year around World Diabetes Day, but we want everyone to support #insulin4all every day of the year.

How can people participate?

The easiest way to support the campaign is by using the hashtag on social media and spreading the world about the issues. There is a lot of content on the Tumblr page and on the T1International website that you can share to promote and push for #insulin4all. You can also still submit an #insulin4all image on the Tumblr page. All you need to do is take a picture of yourself holding up a piece of paper with #insulin4all written on it, submit it to the campaign page, and share it widely.

How does this campaign bring the mission of insulin for all to a higher level and what is your goal?

The diabetes community is a hugely powerful force and we have seen it unite to push for change from topics such as general diabetes awareness to access to CGMs. Many people with diabetes don’t realise that millions are dying premature death because they can’t access the basics that everyone living with the condition needs to survive. We want people to know that this is happening and we want to unite to change the situation. As with any change, the first step is to understand the problems to find the best solutions. The next step is building a force of advocates to ensure that change happens. That is what this campaign has already begun doing and will continue to do until everyone can live a full life with diabetes.

What makes this campaign different from other insulin access efforts, like the 100 Campaign?

The #insulin4all campaign is somewhat unique in that last year, for example, it had participation from people in over 40 countries around the world. It is very important to share the voices of others, especially those who are facing lack of access to insulin and supplies, and we are so glad to be able to do that through this campaign.

We support the 100 Campaign and love its clear and powerful idea of 100% access to insulin by 2022. Despite the hashtag, #insulin4all’s focus is not only on insulin, but on all of the ‘pieces of the diabetes puzzle’. Even if you have insulin, for example, if you don’t have a syringe to inject it with, or a means to know your blood sugar levels, you’re still in grave danger. We feel strongly that all of these things need to be taken into account when building solutions.

Finally, while we know the #insulin4all campaign is a powerful awareness and advocacy tool, we also know that it alone will not create sustainable change. The annual campaign is part of a wider organisation and movement that is working towards that change. T1International and the other Access Alliance members are taking on a truly collective and collaborative approach because we recognize that we are stronger when we work together. The members of the alliance all work with and are part of diabetes communities around the globe which helps us ensure that we fully understand the many complex issues faced by people with diabetes. *If you want to join the Access Alliance, get in touch with elizabeth@t1international.com*

Do you think the diabetes online community has global reach and can make a truly global difference?

Part of the issue we are bringing to light is that the diabetes online community is probably not global enough. This was certainly one of the motivations we had in setting up the campaign and the Access Alliance in the first place. We have been heartened to find that, as people learn about these issues, many are shocked and stunned – and they want to do something about it. We are confident that #insulin4all will grow the number of people that know about the issues and will therefore grow our power in numbers to speak out against the injustices.

Yes, change is possible, but there are no easy answers or quick fixes when it comes to ensuring everyone around the world can obtain insulin, syringes, test trips, glucometers, and the diabetes education needed to keep them alive. That makes it even more important that we determinedly search for those answers and find appropriate solutions. It’s an ongoing process but it’s a vital one if we are to see the kind of change that is needed for our brothers and sisters with diabetes around the globe.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

“Life with diabetes is complicated. Access to vital insulin, diabetes supplies and medical care should not be.” If you agree, support #insulin4all today or get in touch with elizabeth@t1international.com if you want to get further involved.

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