Accessibility links

High Schoolers Make Martin Shkreli’s Pricey Drug on the Cheap

  • VOA News

FILE- Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager under fire for buying a pharmaceutical company and ratcheting up the price of a life-saving drug, is escorted by law enforcement agents after being taken into custody following a securities probe, in New York, Dec. 17, 2015.

FILE- Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager under fire for buying a pharmaceutical company and ratcheting up the price of a life-saving drug, is escorted by law enforcement agents after being taken into custody following a securities probe, in New York, Dec. 17, 2015.

The one-time “most hated” man in the U.S. may have been foiled by a group of Australian students.

Martin Shkreli rose to infamy in 2015 when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of a drug called Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill. The anti-parasitic drug is used by some patients with malaria or AIDS.

Now, Shkreli, who is for many a symbol of greed, faces competition from a group of Australian high school students who developed 3.7 grams of the main active ingredient in the drug, pyrimethamine, for just $20. That would be $110,000 at the markup of Shkreli's company.

"It wasn't terribly hard but that's really the point, I think, because we're high school students," Charles Jameson told the BBC.

Daraprim usually retails for about $1.50 per pill in Australia and Britain.

The students say they were inspired by the high prices in the U.S.

"It seems totally unjustified and ethically wrong," student James Wood said. "It's a life-saving drug and so many people can't afford it."

The drug was developed in the 1950s, but Shkreli acquired rights to it in 2015 and increased the price by 5,000 percent. Shkreli excused the hike, saying the drug was specially designed.

After public outrage, Shkreli lowered the price.

Enterprising Australian high schoolers are not the only problem for hedge-fund manager Shkreli. He was arrested last December on allegations of securities fraud. He goes to trial next year.

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG