Global Day of Action for #insulin4all demands insulin equity NOW

Global Day of Action for #insulin4all demands insulin equity NOW

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On March 16, 2024, hundreds of #insulin4all advocates participated in over a dozen events across the globe calling for insulin access and affordability as part of the Global Day of Action for #insulin4all, sharing their stories on the critical need for insulin equity now.

At T1International, our vision is a world where everyone with diabetes, no matter where they live, has everything they need to survive and achieve their dreams. Unfortunately, that is far from the reality for so many.

T1International’s Fight for Five campaign calls for a world where no one has to spend more than 5% of their income on insulin and glucose testing supplies. For too long, Big Pharma has put profits over patients' lives. Right now, our community is often being forced to spend much more – sometimes 80+%, or more, of their income just to get the basic insulin and glucose testing supplies. Enough’s enough!

The day saw a variety of powerful events, including the submission of a letter to the new government in Zimbabwe, a media campaign with interviews and statements about the need for affordable insulin in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, an education and outreach event in Atlanta, Georgia, and much, much more!

Each event drew attention to the critical need for insulin equity now. The Global Day of Action for #insulin4all participants also took action online by sharing how much was spent on their insulin during their life living with diabetes, and what could have been purchased instead. The message was clear: Big Pharma has profited off of people for too long even though insulin is essential and not a luxury item.

Here are some highlights from the Day of Action for #insulin4all:

Photo: Brittany McWilliams, left, and other #insulin4all advocates gathered in Boston, Massachusetts, calling insulin manufacturers to lower insulin prices • Photo Credit: Evvie Jagoda

In Boston, Massachusetts, advocates marched around the offices of the Big Three insulin manufacturers, bringing vials of insulin filled with powerful words and the names of their loved ones. Brittany McWilliams, Massachusetts #insulin4all Chapter Leader, led the “Triangle of Evil” takeover in Cambridge, Massachusetts, kicking off the event with a call to attendees to raise their collective voices. “We’re here today to pressure Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi — the big three insulin manufacturers — to lower the cost of their insulins, especially in those low and middle income countries that have been devastated by colonialism and exploitation for decades.”

Bertrand Burgalat, second from right, and other advocates gather at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, calling Sanofi to lower insulin prices • Photo credit: Aguérine Zar for Gonzai magazine

In Paris, France, Advocacy Partner Diabète et Méchant called on Sanofi to take action on insulin access and affordability. “For the last 25 years, Sanofi has played a major role in the rise of the price of insulin,” said Bertrand Burgalat of Diabéte et Mèchant, a Global Advocacy Partner of T1International. “Hence, it is very important for us to confront them.” In Paris, Diabéte et Mèchant delivered a petition with thousands of signatures calling on Sanofi to lower insulin prices, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Petitions were also delivered to Eli Lilly based in Indiana, and to Novo Nordisk based in Denmark.

Photo: Meethi Zindagi’s Executive Director Sana Ajmal, fourth from bottom left in white, with Roundtable participants in Islamabad • Photo Credit: Mahin Masham

In Islamabad, Pakistan, Advocacy Partner Meethi Zindagi organized a roundtable about the urgent need for insulin with decision-makers. T1International’s Global Advocacy Partner Meethi Zindagi’s Executive Director, Sana Ajmal, said, “In Pakistan, we are experiencing critical challenges of insulin availability and shortages are particularly alarming for individuals with type 1 diabetes, like myself. On the Global Day of Action for #insulin4all, key stakeholders including the government policymakers, regulatory bodies, pharma industry, and the society joined hands together to come up with short-, medium-, and long-term solutions to the insulin availability crisis. It’s a testament of national desire to reach solutions acceptable to all stakeholders in a positive, solution focused manner.”

Photo: Khushi Ahujah, center bottom, and other Delhi #insulin4all advocates • Photo credit: Anuvrinda Ashtt

In New Delhi, India, Advocacy Partner Diabetes Fighters Trust performed a dance for #insulin4all and shared letters calling for insulin access and affordability. Khushi Ahuja led the dance performance and social media campaign and was joined by advocates across the country who submitted letters to the Prime Minister in their local language. “We want the decision makers to know that we exist and we want them to know our concerns and problems,” said Mehak Dhingra.

Photo: Janelle Lutgen speaking at the Indianapolis event targeting Eli Lilly • Other speakers at the Indianapolis event • Photo Credits: Bryce Gustafson

In Indianapolis, Indiana, #insulin4all advocates took to public spaces to demand Eli Lilly lower insulin prices. Janelle Lutgen, the Iowa #insulin4all Chapter Leader, shared her story about her son Jesse who passed away in 2018 due to insulin rationing. “Why is a product that costs under $10 to make, $300 a vial? Why would anyone pad their wallets at the expense of someone struggling with an incurable disease? Why did my son have to die so someone could live in an expensive home, drive an expensive car, and take expensive trips?” Janelle is also a part of Families United for Affordable Insulin, a group that provides outreach, counsel and guidance for families grieving the loss of loved ones impacted by the insulin price crisis, and promotes affordable insulin for all who need it.

Photo: Kristine P stands behind the DC Metro #insulin4all banner with advocates in front of the US Congress • Photo Credit: Francine Pomerantz, T1International

In Washington, DC, #insulin4all advocates demonstrated in front of the capitol building, calling on Congress to act on insulin pricing. Metro DC #insulin4all Chapter Leader Kristine P. underlined the importance of insulin access and affordability measures: “We should not have to rely on these handouts. We need policy change.”

Virtual action creator and Michigan #insulin4all Chapter Leader Quinn Nicols said about the actions: “Big Pharma’s been profiting off of us, people with diabetes, for too long. Insulin is not a luxury item – it is essential! And Big Pharma makes billions in profit while one in four people worldwide are forced to ration insulin due to the high costs. We need insulin equity now.”

T1International’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Pfiester, rounded out the day by saying “We have incredible power as a united, global diabetes community and we are hopeful to build on this momentum for lasting change.”

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