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Sydney schoolboys take down Martin Shkreli, the ‘most hated man in the world’

Martin Shkreli was the ”big pharma bro” who outraged the world by hiking the price of an essential drug from $US13.50 ($18) to $US750 a tablet.

Now a handful of year 11 students in Sydney have shown him up, cooking the same drug in their school lab for about $2 a dose.

Daraprim is an anti-parasitic medicine used to treat infections such as toxoplasmosis and malaria. It is on the World Health Organisation’s list of essential medicines.

The drug is used to treat people with low immune systems, such as people living with HIV, chemotherapy patients and pregnant women.


In September last year hedge-fund manager Shkreli gained control of Turing Pharmaceuticals and attracted worldwide opprobrium by increasing the price of the drug more than 5000 per cent.

He went on to spend $US2 million on the only available copy of a Wu-Tang Clan album.

He was called “a morally bankrupt sociopath”, a “scumbag” and “everything that is wrong with capitalism”.

Hillary Clinton accused him of price gouging and The Atlanticdescribed him as “the face of unapologetic profiteering from the suffering of humans”.

University of Sydney chemist Dr Alice Williamson thought it an ideal drug to synthesise in a school lab for chemistry students at Sydney Grammar School.

“The background to this made it seem more important,” said James Wood, 17, one of the boys involved in the project.

“Working on a real-world problem definitely made us more enthusiastic,” said another of the Sydney Grammar boys, Austin Zhang, 17.

This is the second year that the University of Sydney’s Open Source Malaria Consortium has done outreach work with Sydney Grammar. The consortium’s guiding principle is to use publicly available drugs and medical approaches to cure malaria.

The work of Dr Williamson and consortium founder Associate Professor Matthew Todd has been praised by Bill Gates, whose foundation is looking for a cure to malaria.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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