Martin Shkreli increased the price of Daraprim exponentially, which is the anti-parasitic drug that is used to treat HIV patients, and in doing so, he became the most hated man in the world. The drug, which once was only $13.50 shot up to a massively expensive $750 per pill.
Due to this increase, many people have revolted against Shkreli. Of course, Shkreli tried to thwart the hated that came his way and even eventually decreased the price by 50% for U.S hospitals. Still, private patients had to pay the astounding $750 per pill, which was 30 times the original price.
Taking action, Australian students worked to create 3.7 grams of Daraprim’s active ingredient for only $20, which is something that would cost anywhere between $35,000-$110,000 in Shkreli’s market.
If you break this cost down to the price per tablet, the numbers are substantially different: Shkreli charges $750 per tablet, and because of the student’s efforts, they were able to break it down to a mere $2 per tablet!
Working diligently, the students have dedicated themselves to an after-school program that worked on the project since 2015.
According to Austin Zhange, a 17-year-old student, “Working on a real-world problem definitely made us more enthusiastic,”
Another student, James Wood stated, “The background to this made it seem more important.”
The student had the help of a University of Sydney chemist, Alice Williamson, and she worked with the students on an online program called Open Source Malaria.
The students spent 12 months trying to safely synthesize the drug and eventually were able to create 3.7 grams of pyrimethamine, which is the active ingredient. Williamson confirmed the substance with a spectrogram, and said it was “one of the most beautiful spectrographs I’ve ever seen.” She says the students synthesized “about $100,000 worth of the drug.”
The students have no intentions of selling the drug, instead, they only wanted the world to realize that the same medicine could be made available for $2.00 a tablet, while Shkreli was selling them for $750 each. There are other nations which make the medicine available at the low cost of $1-$2, however, Shkreli’s company has ahold of the distribution of the HIV drug in the U.S market currently, and because of that, the cost is massively higher than what it is worth.