An interesting report out of Australia:
A group of Australian high school students have managed to recreate a life-saving drug that rose from US$13.50 to US$750 a tablet overnight after an unscrupulous price-hike by former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli.
The Sydney Grammar students reproduced the drug, Daraprim, used to treat a rare but deadly parasitic infection, in their high school laboratory with support from the University of Sydney and global members of the Open Source Malariaconsortium.
Dr Alice Williamson, a postdoctoral teaching fellow with the university’s school of chemistry, said she could not stop dwelling on the story of Shkreli, who acquired Daraprim last year through his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, and almost immediately and exorbitantly hiked the price. The drug is used to treat malaria and to prevent toxoplasmosis infection in people with HIV.
OK, well done those students.
“I couldn’t get this story out of my head, it just seemed so unfair especially since the drug is so cheap to make and had been sold so cheaply for so long,” Williamson said.
“I said ‘Why don’t we get students to make Daraprim in the lab’, because to me the route looked pretty simple. I thought if we could show that students could make it in the lab with no real training, we could really show how ridiculous this price hike was and that there was no way it could be justified.”
Which is to entirely miss what Martin Shkreli actually did. The drug is indeed simple enough to make, it's long and well out of patent and yes, perhaps it should be a $1 a tablet or whatever. As, to some level of accuracy, it is here in Europe and elsewhere in the world. So, it wasn't a patent and it wasn't making the drug that allowed the price rise.
Instead, it was and is the near insane rules that the Federal Drug Administration places upon the manufacture of drugs. Which is why the price rose in the US and did not and has not risen elsewhere.
Shkreli wriggled his way through the regulatory system - it's the regulatory system at fault therefore. The solution is thus a change in the regulatory system, not demonisation of Shkreli nor students making the drug in labs. Because however many Australian or other students show how easy it is to make in a lab the FDA won't allow Americans to take it.
Fix the FDA therefore, nothing else.