Children synthesize $2 version of Martin Shkreli's $750 malaria drug

The smirking, villainous pharma-hedge-douche-bro Martin Shkreli (previously) bought the rights to the anti-parasitic drug Daraprim -- used to treat malaria, a disease that disproportionately affects the poorest people in the world -- and jacked the price from $13.50/dose to $750/dose.

A group of schoolchildren in Sydney set out to synthesize the active agent in Daraprim, and found they could make it using classroom equipment for $2/dose.

Shkreli discounted this achievement on Twitter, saying that making small amounts of a drug was cheaper than making large amounts (suggesting that he doesn't understand economies of scale) and that synthesizing molecules in a classroom wasn't innovative (presumably, adding a couple zeroes to a price-tag is the real source of medical innovation).

Under the guidance of Dr Alice Williamson at the University of Sydney, some year 11 Sydney Grammar students made the drug for about $2 a dose.

In explaining his motivation during the Sydney Grammar school project, student James Wood said: "I don't believe his justification for the price hike." James, 17, said he thought this seemed "a bit wishy-washy".

"He was clearly trying to justify something driven by the profit motive," James said.

Martin Shkreli responds after Sydney Grammar boys make Daraprim [Marcus Strom/Sydney Morning Herald]

(via Naked Capitalism)

Notable Replies

  1. ...and be much less likely to be sued than anyone else who tried it.

    (also, such savings are entirely possible when using child labor)

  2. What post is Shkreli taking in the new Rage Mango administration?

  3. Cunk says:

    "Let's see...how can I publicly ridicule the efforts if a bunch of school children who obviously know nothing about business while again pointing out that the exorbitant price of this product covers the cost of innovation (that I am in no way part of)? I know! I'll make the irrelevant and tone deaf comment that their class project wasn't very innovative and is therefore worthless."

  4. I'm sure the costs are not near to the price they are charging, but there are a lot of regulations that a pharmaceutical company has to adhere to that a classroom does not. I have a friend who is a project manager at a place that creates prescription creams, and there is a lot of tracking of the process that has to go on in case of a recall. I'm sure their price is outrageous but there are other costs involved besides just synthesizing the drug. It has to be done in a repeatable fashion and in correct dosages. Packaging has to be secure. Lots have to be traceable.

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