Australia – Young students have recreated the main ingredients for a drug that Martin Shkreli notoriously hiked up to $750 per pill in the United States, for $20 per 3.7 grams, or what would amount to just $2 per pill.
They were able to recreate the key component to the drug pyrimethamine, which is listed as an essential drug by the WHO for its use against a common parasite that affects immunocompromised patients.
Toxoplasmosis and the Daraprim price hike
Pyrimethamine, which is marketed as Daraprim, is used to treat a common parasitic disease called toxoplasmosis in people with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV. Toxoplasmosis can cause flu-like symptoms, confusion and even seizures if left untreated.
About a quarter of the public is infected with toxoplasmosis. Most don’t even realize it, but in people with weakened immune systems, the infection can reactivate and present serious symptoms.
Daraprim made headlines in 2015 after the price of the drug was raised by 5,000%, from $13.50 a pill to around $750 a pill.
Students celebrate, Shkreli skeptical
The students who recreated the drug in their high school lab are ecstatic over their successes.
“At first there was definitely disbelief,” said Brandon Lee, one of the students involved in the project. “But then it turned into happiness as we realized we finally got to our main goal.”
“It was ecstatic, it was bliss, it was euphoric,” added fellow student Milan Leonard.