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A 10-minute Car Ride from Detroit to Canada Saved Us Over $1400 on the Prescription Drugs We Need to Survive

On Thursday, July 25, a group of healthcare activists traveled from Detroit, MI across the border to nearby Windsor, Canada to refill their prescriptions, which cost them nearly ten times as much in the US. 

The pilgrimage - led by CPD Director of Action Management Julia Peter - sought to raise awareness and criticize the obscene cost of prescription drugs in America, ahead of a House Oversight Committee hearing on the issue held on July 26.

Jamila Headley, the managing director of Health GAP (Global Access Project) and one of the trip participants, was blown away when she found out that Lyrica - the drug she takes to treat chronic pain that is the result of an autoimmune illness that left her suddenly paralyzed from the waist down 12 years ago - only costs US$35 for a one month supply in Canada. It costs US$852.74 in the States. 

Activist and photographer, TW Collins, described a similar shock about the cost of his NovoLog insulin pen. “For a month’s supply of my insulin, which is a box of five pens, it costs $675. Before this trip, I was under the impression that an individual pen cost US$82 each in Canada -- which is already over a 50% savings. But when we actually picked up the prescription at the pharmacy, I learned it’s actually the ENTIRE box of five pens for US82!” 

In total, the ten-minute ride from Detroit to Windsor would have saved the group $1410.72 on the prescriptions medicines they need to survive. 

“These drugs are a public good. So why do Americans pay more per drug than the fifteen other richest countries in the world? There is absolutely no reason that a drug should cost 10 times more in the US than it does anywhere else,” said Jennifer Flynn Walker, Senior Director of Mobilization and Advocacy at the Center for Popular Democracy. 

The bus trip took place in the backdrop of CPD’s People’s Convention, a national convening with over 1500 affiliate members in attendance. Headly and Collins joined activists on stage during a massive action in downtown Detroit to share their stories and call for Congressional action on drug pricing.

“People are dying because they can’t afford the medicines they need to live! All because of the greed of pharmaceutical companies and the lack of federal action against their deadly pricing practices!” 


*Editor's Note: Headley was not able to fill a prescription for Lyrica during this trip but was given the pricing from the pharmacist.