22 Junio 2017 11:42
They’ve proved it
11 Australian students between 16 and 17 years of age have successfully replicated Daraprim, the drug used to treat HIV and malaria, whose price was hiked up by 5,000% by the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli, shortly after he took over the company.
Shkrelli set a price of 750 dollars for the pill but, now, this group of students from Sydney Grammar School, have reproduced it in a few weeks in their school lab and for less than 2 dollars a tablet. The school project has proven just how disproportionate the price is for a drug which, for many people with HIV, is the only way to stay alive.
One of the students, Leonard Milan, has accused Shkrelli on Twitter of forgetting ‘that lives are at stake’ over a price dispute.
The youngsters reproduced the drug, which can be found on the Worldwide Health Organisation’s (WHO) list of essential medicines, under the supervision of Dr. Alice Williamson. As she herself told The Guardian, ever since Shkreli put up the price of Daraprim, she couldn’t stop thinking about it.
'I couldn’t get this story out of my head, it just seemed so unfair especially since the drug is so cheap to make and had been sold so cheaply for so long.'
'I said "Why don’t we get students to make Daraprim in the lab," because to me the route looked pretty simple. I thought if we could show that students could make it in the lab with no real training, we could really show how ridiculous this price hike was and that there was no way it could be justified,' she added.
And that’s exactly what she did. She began a project with students from the school, which, in a matter of weeks, had produced 3.7 grams of pyrimethamine, the chemical name for Daraprim. An amount that, for the CEO, has a value of little over 110,000 dollars.
And this was Shkreli's smarmy response on Twitter:@nedavanovac lol how is that showing anyone up? almost any drug can be made at small scale for a low price. glad it makes u feel good tho.
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) 1 December 2016
Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the exclusive rights to the drug in the US, so the students won’t be able to sell it there. But their little demonstration has, nevertheless, shown Shkreli's price hike for what it is.