Last Friday, a group of parents marched against the pharmaceutical company Sanofi, per WBTV, to protest the company’s rising insulin prices. The situation is so dire that one parent of a diabetic child said, “It’s either pay your rent, pay your car payment or get your medication.” Sanofi was taken to court by Minnesota Attorney General last October for “deceptively [raising] the list prices of insulin, making it less affordable to patients in high deductible plans, the uninsured, and senior citizens on Medicare,” according to the AG’s lawsuit.
Diabetics need medication to live. Having diabetes means the body doesn’t produce insulin naturally, which then means sugar levels aren’t able to be regulated without medication. Diabetics risk death by going just a few days without insulin, or without the proper dosage. Yet the Attorney General’s office notes that prices have tripled since 2002, driving diabetics to risky extremes.
That’s what happened to the children of parents who showed up at Sanofi’s front doors. Parents came to the company’s Cambridge, Mass., headquarters from as far as Ohio and Minnesota to make their voices heard. Many brought along the ashes of their diabetic children, who died after being unable to afford the insulin they needed to continue living.
Local news outlet WBZ spoke with parents about their stories. Antoinette Worsham said her daughter Antavia was forced to pay $1,000 a month for her medication. She couldn’t afford the exorbitant prices of her insulin prescriptions, so she rationed it out, taking smaller doses than she needed. As a result, she died at just 22 years old.
Another parent, Nicole Smith-Holt, lost her son just 27 days after he was forced off her health insurance. She wasn’t aware until after he passed, but her son Alec was also rationing his insulin. The 26-year-old was found dead in his apartment.
When these parents and others showed up on Sanofi’s doorstep, the company sent its employees home. Orwellian, disgusting disregard, contemptuous—all these things describe Sanofi’s reaction to parents bringing their deceased children to its headquarters.
In the end, security were the only company affiliates the protesters spoke with directly. Sanofi only gave the mourning parents the time of day when they were asked to move off of private property. A spokesman for the company, Nicolas Kressmann, said, “We want to ensure everything works as well as possible for employees and the protesters. We don’t want any accidents or any situation.”
Yet Sanofi refused to listen to the parents. Another protester, who lost his son, responded to the news of being asked to move:
The company’s only statement: “We take this issue seriously and continue to explore innovative ways to find solutions to help eliminate or significantly reduce the out-of-pocket expenses for patients.”