Makers shamed after school kids replicate overpriced HIV drug in lab

Australian school children working on a shoestring budget have recreated the HIV drug whose price was controversially jacked up 5 000% by a former hedge fund manager.US drug company chief Martin Shkreli became a global figure of hate after buying the rights to Daraprim and then raising the price in the United States from $13.50 a tablet to $750 (R190 to R1 520).

Youngsters at a Sydney school decided to draw attention to the scandal and went to work creating pyrimethamine, the active ingredient for Daraprim, an anti-parasitic used to treat people with low immune systems like those with HIV, chemotherapy patients and pregnant women.

Pupil James Wood said he and his friends had started off with just 20 of the drug, and in one reaction had produced thousands of dollars’ worth.

“So we really just hope this makes a point about the nature of the pharmaceutical industry,” he said.

University of Sydney research chemist Alice Williamson helped the boys synthesise the medicine using online platform Open Source Malaria.

The pupils shared the outrage of the general public, she said.

“The original recipe, if you like, to make this molecule was from a patent that was referenced on Wikipedia.”

Turing Pharmaceuticals still sells the only FDA-approved form of the drug in the US, but reportedly halved the price for hospitals after the outcry.

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