For $20, high school kids develop life-saving drug

A group of 17-year-old students in Australia has illustrated the obscenity of the U.S. pharmaceutical market.

The BBC reports that the boys created the active ingredient in Daraprim, the anti-parasitic drug used by malaria and Aids patients, which a U.S. company is currently selling here for about $750 a pill. The 3.7 grams of pyrimethamine they created in their high school science lab would sell for about $110,000 in the United States. They did it for $20.

“It seems totally unjustified and ethically wrong,” student James Wood said. “It’s a life-saving drug and so many people can’t afford it.”

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

Developed in the 1950s, Daraprim is the best treatment for a relatively rare parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis.

Mr Shkreli, also known as “Pharma Bro”, was chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals when it acquired exclusive rights to Daraprim.

Its decision to increase the cost by more than 5,000% in August last year drew international condemnation. Mr Shkreli has argued the Daraprim price increase was warranted because the drug is highly specialised.

But the firm eventually agreed to lower the price to something more affordable.

The boys did their work via Open Source Malaria, a project that encourages people to come up with ways to cure malaria.

Making a huge profit while curing a disease isn’t the point.