A group of Australian teenagers have gone above and beyond combat out-of-control prices of pharmaceuticals in the United States by creating a medication which in the U.S. costs $750 for just $20 and some effort.
The Sydney Grammar Students recreated the drug Daraprim which became famous when ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli hiked the price by 5,500 percent from $13.50 to $750 in the space of a year.
When Shkreli made headlines last year for his exorbitant prices placed on the vital HIV drug, one of the main justifications for the pharma bro’s pricing was that his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, was the only one on the market who was producing and selling Daraprim. Due to a lack of competition, Shkreli was able to charge as much as he wanted, and the consumer and their insurance company were left to foot the bill.
Shkreli even had the audacity to claim that his company was under-pricing the drug, an outrageous claim that the Australian teens planned to disprove.
And disprove they did: the teens worked with their chemistry teacher to create a similar formula than the one called “Daraprim,” though they were limited in some ways. Their concoction was tested by the University of Sydney chemist Dr. Alice Williamson who declared the drug pure.
From the $20 of materials the students used, they were able to produce about $110,000-worth of the medicine, a far cry from the $750 per bottle of Daraprim.
Though the teens have reached this major accomplishment and discovered a far cheaper alternative, bringing it to the U.S. is unlikely as the drug they dealt with is out of patent in the U.S.
This lack of a patent is yet another way that Turing Pharmaceuticals can continue to hold users of Daraprim hostage, and another sign of the corruption and inefficiency of Big Pharma.
Though Shkreli has seen a long fall from fame since then and is facing a trial for other business-related crimes, the example he set is still in place in the pharmacy industry. Daraprim was not the first drug to cost an arm and a leg for no reason, and it certainly hasn’t been the last.