Science

Martin Shkreli's Expensive Malaria, HIV Medication Has Been Recreated By Aussie Schoolboys

By Christie Abagon , Dec 03, 2016 12:28 PM EST
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In 2015, Martin Shkreli was called 'the most hated man in America' after he bought the right to Daraprim - a medication used to treat malaria and HIV.  The drug was sold in the US for $13.50, but Shkreli raised the price to $750. 

Teenage Students From Australia Recreated The Drug For Just $20

17-year-old students from Sydney Grammar in Australia were able to synthesize Daraprim's active ingredient, pyrimethamine, in their school science laboratory.  The boys produced 3.7 grams of pyrimethamine for just $20.  The same quantity would have cost about $110,000 in the US.

"It wasn't terribly hard but that's really the point, I think, because we're high school students," said Charles Jameson, one of the boys. 

The Boys Were Surprised When They Made The Final Discovery

Brandon Lee, a member of the student team, said that they were very happy when they met their goal.  "At first there was definitely disbelief.  We spent so long and there were so many obstacles... it surprised us, like, 'Oh, we actually made this material' and 'This can actually help people out there'.  So it was definitely disbelief but then it turned in to happiness as we realised we finally got to our main goal."

Experts Say There Is No Reason For Daraprim To Be So Expensive, If These Aussie Boys Were Able To Replicate Them

Daraprim was first developed in the 1950's and is the best treatment available for parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis.  The decision of Shkreli to increase the price of the drug by about 5,000 percent faced international uproar.  HIV and malaria patients who relied on the drug found the increase heartbreaking.  University of Sydney research chemist, Dr Alice Williamson, who supported the boys' project said: "If you can obtain it cheaply in schools, then there's no excuse for charging that much money for a drug.  Especially from people that really need it and probably can't afford to pay for it."

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