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Human Interest

Australian Teens Recreate Key Ingredient in Daraprim, Martin Shkreli’s Price-Jacked HIV Drug, for $20

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Score one for the good guys.

A group of high school students in Sydney have recreated the key ingredient in Daraprim — the drug used to treat parasitic infections whose price was famously hiked from $13.50 to $750 per tablet by Martin Shkreli last year — for $20.

The students managed to synthesize 3.7 grams of Pyrimethamine, Daraprim’s active ingredient, an amount that would sell in the U.S. for between $35,000 and $110,000.

Seventeen-year-olds Milan Leonard and, Brandon Lee and a few others labored on the project for a year, aided by University of Sydney research chemist Alice Williamson and a research-sharing platform called Open Source Malaria.

“The original route that we got — so the “original recipe,” if you like — to make this molecule, was from a patent that was referenced on Wikipedia,” Dr. Williamson told the ABC. “The boys had to navigate a difficult step and do this in a different way, and they’ve managed to do that, and they’ve managed to do that in their high school laboratory.”

Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals infamously acquired the exclusive rights to Daraprim in August 2015 and hiked the drug’s price skyward; caving to the outpouring of poor publicity, they eventually lowered its price by 50 percent for hospitals. In many other countries — including Australia — Daraprim is sold for $1-$2 a pill. Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, another drug company based in the U.S.