The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Patented for $1; Cost, $300!

Apr 1, 2019

Between 2007 and 2016, major brand insulin list prices have increased by 252%, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the University of Southern California. People with Type 1 diabetes cannot afford this drug in the U.S. and are dying from a lack of it.

Insulin is the only treatment available for people with Type 1 diabetes today. Before 1921, most people with Type 1 diabetes did not live more than a year or two. In early 1922, patients with Type 1 diabetes were first successfully treated.

Insulin was discovered by three University of Toronto scientists, Frederick G. Banting, Charles H. Best and J.J.R. Macleod in 1921. Another scientist, James B. Collip, subsequently purified insulin to be used in the treatment of patients with Type 1 diabetes.

Finally, in 1923, Banting, Best, and Collip were awarded the U.S. patents for insulin which they sold to the University of Toronto for $1.00 each, hoping the low price would keep the essential treatment available to everyone who needed it.

Soon, corporations were able to mass-produce insulin to treat patients. In November 1923, insulin’s price was two cents per unit. Average annual inflation over the period of 1923—2019 was close to 2.9%. This means that today’s price would be around $0.30 per unit.

But, today, in Canada, the same insulin from these brands can cost $38 per unit. But wait! If that seems high, look at retail prices in the U.S.—a staggering $300, plus or minus, per unit for all insulins from the three major brands!

Insulin has been around close to 100 years and is very cheap to produce. But, its price is kept stunningly high today by the three private producers, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi, which together control the market and decide on prices.

For profits, a few individuals are allowed to rob many and reduce others to misery, even death.

And they say we are living in a democracy? Where the hell is the law against this?!