A group of high schoolers in Australia have recreated the active ingredient in the HIV drug Martin Shkreli increased the price of from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill last year, in the process becoming one of the most hated men in America.
Anti-parasitic drug Pyrimethamine, the active ingredient in Daraprim, was recreated by students from Sydney Grammar for $20, reported ABC News. Led by University of Sydney research chemist Alice Williamson, the 17-year-olds reportedly wanted to recreate the drug to show how overpriced it was here in the U.S.
One of the students who participated, Milan Leonard, said he was "ecstatic" and described what it was like for the team to finally achieve their goal after a year: "After all of this time spent working and chemistry being such a high and low, after all the lows, after all the downs, being able to make this drug, it was pure bliss." Daraprim sells for $1 to $2 a pill in most countries, including Australia.
Shkreli, who obviously had to weigh in, tweeted that he was not impressed with the students’ feat.
Williamson told the Sydney Morning Herald students used 17 grams of 2,4-chlorophenyl acetonitrile and produced 3.7 grams of pyrimethamine. “That's about $110,000 worth of the drug,” said Williamson, who accounted for Shkreli’s price hike when giving that estimate.
Shkreli was able to raise the price on Daraprim by buying the rights to the drug when he was president of Turing Pharmaceuticals. "While the drug is out of patent, Turing Pharmaceuticals controls its distribution and sale through a loophole called the 'closed distribution model'," said Associate Professor Matthew Todd. "To take the drug to market as a generic, you need to compare it to Turing's product. If Turing won't allow the comparisons to take place, you'd need to fund a whole new trial."