A group of Australian students successfully reproduced an active ingredient for a life-saving, anti-parasitic drug called pyrimethamine, the active ingredient in Daraprim (once used as an antimalarial, now primarily used to treat toxoplasmosis and cystoisosporiasis) for just $2 per dose. The drug’s current list price is $750 a dose. The school boys from the Sydney Grammar School, who synthesized Daraprim gained notoriety in September 2015, when Turing Pharmaceuticals purchased the rights to its distribution and raised its price from $13.50 a tablet to $750.00.
Global media, pharmaceutical executives and others have praised the students saying they proved that of that science and technology will solve problems of human suffering in the 21st century. The team of six students and their chemistry teacher worked under the guidance of members of the Open Source Malaria consortium and the University of Sydney to reproduce the active ingredient for the life-saving drug.
The anti-parasitic Daraprim drug is used to fight back potentially deadly infections in pregnant women, AIDS patients and others. Martin Shkreli, a former pharmaceutical executive, said: “These Australian students are proof that the 21st century economy will solve problems of human suffering … We should congratulate these students for their interest in chemistry and I’ll be excited about what is to come in this STEM-focused 21st century.” For background, the project was conceived of by Alice Williamson, a chemist at The University of Sydney and who is part of a group of scientists that goes by the Open Source Malaria consortium.