Changing the World of Medicine for $20

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Australian High school students create life saving drug in a high school lab

The+17-year-olds+from+Sydney+Grammar+recreated+Pyrimethamine+in+their+high+school+laboratory.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Changing the World of Medicine for $20

The 17-year-olds from Sydney Grammar recreated Pyrimethamine in their high school laboratory.

The 17-year-olds from Sydney Grammar recreated Pyrimethamine in their high school laboratory.

Unknown

The 17-year-olds from Sydney Grammar recreated Pyrimethamine in their high school laboratory.

Unknown

Unknown

The 17-year-olds from Sydney Grammar recreated Pyrimethamine in their high school laboratory.

Last year Martin Shkreli, a hedge-fund manager, founded Turing Pharmaceuticals. After creating the company the now former CEO quickly bought the exclusive rights to an anti-parasitic drug called Daraprim. Daraprim is included on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines, and is “used to treat infections like toxoplasmosis and malaria, particularly in people with low immunity, such as people with HIV, chemotherapy patients, and pregnant women” (Fiona McDonald, www.sciencealert.com). In August of 2015 Shkreli increased the price from $13.50 a tablet to $750 a tablet. The price increase outraged millions and two months later the company lowered the price of the drug by 50 percent for american hospitals, but did not change the price for private patients or pharmacies.

Following Shkreli’s radical price increase a group of high school students in Sydney Grammar School in Sydney, Australia began working on a new and much cheaper way to make this drug in their high school chemistry lab. In order to successfully create this medicine the students needed to replicate Daraprim’s active ingredient pyrimethamine. The patented way of creating this ingredient was too dangerous for a school laboratory, so the students had to create an alternative way and eventually they found success. The students were able to create 3.7 grams of the active ingredient which would cost about $35,000 in the US for a total of $20.

“At first there was definitely disbelief,” student Brandon Lee said when they successfully recreated the drug. “We spent so long and there were so many obstacles that we, not lost hope, but it surprised us, like, ‘Oh, we actually made this material’ and ‘This can actually help people out there.’’”

While Daraprim is still extremely expensive in the US, it is sold for $1 to $2 per dose in other countries like Australia. According to ScienceAlert, the reason Turing Pharmaceuticals can (and most likely will) continue to sell their drug for such extreme prices in America is because of a loophole called the ‘closed distribution model‘. “[The closed distribution model means] for a competitor – such as the students’ new drug – to be sold on the US open market it would have to be compared in trials to Shkreli’s product,” (McDonald). If the new CEO of Turing, Ron Tilles, refuses to allow these trials then the competitors must fund their own trials which can cost millions of dollars. This is why Turing Pharmaceuticals stays unopposed in the Daraprim ‘business’.

The high school students success proves that this drug could be accessible to every person who needs it, and hopefully will inspire some competition to the stand-alone tyrant that Turing Pharmaceuticals has become.

http://www.usnews.com/news/health-care-news/articles/2016-12-01/australian-students-reproduce-martin-shkrelis-daraprim-drug-for-2-per-pill

http://www.sciencealert.com/students-have-made-martin-shkreli-s-750-drug-in-their-chem-lab-for-just-2

Print Friendly, PDF & Email