Health News

Australian Students Re-Create High-Priced Drug In School Lab

Photo from Pixabay

Australian students may have taken the lead in the drug that sparked a price hike controversy last year, by recreating its active ingredient.

Pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli became one of the most hated men in the United States, and a symbol of greed, when he raised the price of one tablet of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750. The decision was met with outrage worldwide, and while Shkreli openly faced critics, the company eventually lowered the price to a “more affordable” range.

Now, schoolboys from the Sydney Gramma school, all 17 years old, have synthesized pyrimethamine, the active ingredient in Daraprim, in their school laboratory.

Daraprim is an anti-parasitic medicine used by AIDS and malaria patients, the BBC reports. It was developed in the 1950s as a treatment for a rare parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis.

Charles Jameson, one of the students, told the BBC,

It wasn’t terribly hard but that’s really the point, I think, because we’re high school students.

The group was able to produce 3.7 grams of the ingredient for only $20. The same volume would cost some $110,000 in the US.

In Australia and the UK, the same drug sells for less than $1.50 per pill.

The boys said they had conducted their year-long experiment to emphasize the bloated cost of the medicine in the US. As James Wood, one of the students, put it, “It seems totally unjustified and ethically wrong. It’s a life-saving drug and so many people can’t afford it.”

Dr. Malcolm Binns, their supervising teacher, said, “Everyone is very happy and pleased with the result. All the boys think it’s the most amazing thing.”

Shkreli, chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals when it acquired the rights to the drug, argued that the 5,000% price hike had merit because the drug is highly specialized. He has drawn international ire and condemnation, and has even received death threats. He was arrested in December on security fraud charges, and has stepped down as head of Turing.


Click to comment
To Top

Hi - We Would Love To Keep In Touch

If you liked this article then please consider joing our mailing list to receive the latest news, updates and opportunities from our team.

We don't want an impostor using your email address so please look for an email from us and click the link to confirm your email address.