Everyone remembers the yarn about Martin Shkreli, the so-called ‘pharma bro’ known for two things, primarily – jacking up the price of anti-parasitic medication Daraprim from around $US13.50 to $US750 a tablet, and dropping $2M on an unreleased Wu-Tang album.

But look, let’s focus on the prior offence first. Shkreli copped a lot of shit for what is essentially standard and awful practice in the pharmaceutical industry – in no small part because he’s a verifiable prick – but it’s unsurprising that all the attention on Daraprim would encourage people with nobler instincts.
A group of Year 11 students in Sydney have apparently cooked up the same compound Walter White-style in their school lab for around $2 a dose. The Sydney Grammar kids, working under University of Sydney chemist Dr Alice Williamson, gave synthesising their own Daraprim a red hot got, and it seems like they did pretty bloody well at it.
Daraprim treats people who have issues with their immune systems – especially patients with HIV, chemotherapy patients and pregnant women. Its chemical name, stripped of branding, is pyrimethamine.
The kids, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, had to find their own way to get from the raw compounds to the finished product, as the patented method involved dangerous reagents. They’re kids, remember.
The kids ended up producing around 3.7 grams of pyrimethamine which – at the inflated value set in the United States Shkreli’s outfit Turing Pharmaceuticals, would have a value of around $US110,000.
Obviously it’s a lil bit different here. In Australia, with our subsised pharmaceuticals scheme, fifty tablets of a 25 milligram dose costs about $12.99. But look, it’s at least a powerful insight into how irrevocably fucked the American healthcare system is.
“It’s one of the most beautiful spectrographs I’ve ever seen, actually,” Dr Williamson said after the final product was tested. No complaints there.
Photo: Getty Images / Mark Wilson.