The following is a post that was featured on the T1International blog on May 17, 2021. I’m sharing it here today because I want to help spread the word about the Gift to Greed campaign. Learn more about it by reading on (and visiting the links at the end of this piece)…
On Monday, May 17th – 100 years after Banting, Best and Macleod begin their first experiment trying to extract insulin in Toronto – T1International and its advocates around the world launch their year-long campaign. 100 Years: From Gift to Greed will tell the story of insulin’s discovery and how it went from being a gift to the world to a profit machine for the pharmaceutical industry. The campaign will be led by a combination of social media education and a variety of actions.
Insulin is as essential as oxygen for all patients with type 1 diabetes and many with type 2 or other forms of insulin-dependent diabetes. Globally, insulin rationing is common, and half of those in need of insulin cannot afford or access it. For every two people alive with type 1 diabetes, there is a third who did not survive. The production and distribution of insulin is dominated by three companies – Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi – who control more than 90% of the global market.
In the early 1920s in Toronto, Canadian physician and scientist Frederick Banting began working on an idea in the laboratories of J.R.R. McLeod to isolate and extract insulin. Medical student Charles Best and chemist James Collip worked with Banting to test, purify and refine insulin for clinical trials in humans.
After vowing that insulin would not be something to profit on, the discoverers sold their patent for $1 CAD each and eventually passed the rights to the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. so that it could be mass produced and widely available. Banting famously said, ‘’Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world.’’
While this incredible advancement was intended as a gift from the discoverers, Eli Lilly and the two other major insulin producers, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk, have turned insulin into profit machines, assisting in bringing in billions of dollars in profit every year. By 1923, insulin was the highest-selling product in Eli Lilly’s history, and profits from it accounted for over half of the company’s revenue. As we know, the prices have continued to skyrocket ever since. Since 1996, the list price of insulin has increased by over 1200% in the United States. Eli Lilly’s Humalog insulin increased in price by 585% between 2001 and 2015 alone.
T1International’s Founder and Executive Director, Elizabeth Pfiester, said, ‘‘A gift to the world has become a tool for price gouging patients all over the world. The greed of the pharmaceutical industry is keeping insulin out of the hands of millions. This greed leads to the loss of countless lives and dampens the dream of Banting and his colleagues, which was to make insulin a gift to the world. It is outrageous that this is the reality, and T1International will continue to speak out until the pharmaceutical industry is held accountable.’’
T1International advocates will be speaking out and educating the community about the story of insulin and how to get involved in T1International and the global #insulin4all movement. The aim is to put an end to the reality that far too many people die or suffer grave physical, mental, and emotional health consequences due to pharmaceutical greed.
Visit the campaign page and read more at: t1international.com/100years.
Questions about T1International and this campaign should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.