Sydney high school students show up ‘Pharma Bro’

University of Sydney researchers, Associate Professor Matthew Todd and Dr Alice Williamson, with Sydney Grammar students and teachers Erin Sheridan and Dr Malcolm Binns (left to right).

After the “most hated man in America” hiked up the price of Daraprim by 5000% last year, these Australian students have made it in their school lab for about $2 a dose

Sydney Grammar students, under the supervision of the University of Sydney and global members of the Open Source Malaria consortium, have reproduced Daraprim in their high school laboratories.

Daraprim is the trade name for pyrimethamine, a widely used anti-parasitic treatment for toxoplasmosis and malaria.

The drug was the subject of controversy last year when the price was hiked from US$13.50 to US$750 a dose; in September 2015, Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the market rights to Daraprim and raised the price of a dose more than 5000% overnight.

CEO at the time, Martin Shkreli, refused to lower the price despite widespread criticism including from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

To highlight the inequity of pharmaceutical access and affordability, the Sydney high school students have been working with the Open Source Malaria consortium to make Daraprim in the laboratory using inexpensive starting materials, as part of the Breaking good – Open Source Malaria Schools and Undergraduate Program.

Scientists across the world were able to mentor the students to accelerate the science under coordination from The University of Sydney’s Dr Alice Williamson and Associate Professor Matthew Todd.

Shkreli has responded to the story with a video as well as in several tweets.

“I’m delighted to hear about more and more students entering the STEM field,” he said in a video statement.

“These Australian students are proof that the 21st century will solve problems of human suffering through science and technology.

“Scientists are hard at work replacing Daraprim with a more effective solution which could be taken prophylactically and far safer than the current options. Medical scientists brought tremendous advances in cancer, mental health, autoimmune disorders and many others. Technology has lowered the cost of a myriad of goods and services dramatically.

“We should congratulate these students for their interest in chemistry, and all be excited about what is to come in this STEM-focused 21st century,” said Shkreli.

However on his Twitter account he added some further comments.

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1 Comment

  1. Leopold Hamulczyk

    Anyone checked the Australian wholesale price of Daraprim? Look it up in your wholesaler. It’s not expensive.

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