On Tuesday, President Joe Biden claimed that he spoke with the doctor who invented insulin, a doctor who refused to patent the drug and profit from its use. That selfless man was named Dr. Frederick Banting. However, he died almost two years before the president was born.
President Biden was speaking to Americans about what his administration had been doing to lower health care costs for families, citing his efforts to specifically bring down the cost for prescription drugs, specifically citing insulin. It was then that he claimed he had spoken with the doctor who invented it.
“How many of you know somebody with diabetes? Needs insulin?” Biden asked as he paced back and forth behind the lectern. “Well, guess what? And … when we … when Debbie and I passed this law, it included everybody — not just seniors.
“And so, what happened was, we said okay, you know how much it costs to make that insulin drug for diabetes? Cost,” Biden continued. “It was invented by a man who did not patent it because he wanted it available for everyone. I spoke to him, okay?”
Banting was one of the doctors who discovered insulin in 1921, and refused to put his name on the patent. He passed away in February 1941, while President Biden was born in November of 1942, 21 months later.
Banting received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923. His assistant, Dr. Charles Best, was a medical student at the time and assisted with the discovery, and while he did put his name on the patent, along with Dr. James Bertram Collip, who helped refine it, the two sold the patent to the University of Toronto for $1. The three believed that it would not be ethical for them to take profits from something that could potentially save thousands or even millions of lives.
Physiologist John MacLeod, who also chose not to be named on the patent, played a role in the discovery, but had passed away in 1935. While both Drs. Collip and Best were still living after Biden was born, Biden specified that he spoke to an individual who didn’t patent it, ruling out both Collip and Best.
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