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Students Create $20 Version Of Shkreli’s Infamously Priced $750 Pill

Remember Martin Shkreli? He is the pharmaceutical CEO who made headlines as the “most hated man in America” when he charged an exorbitant fee for the life-saving antiparasitic drug Daraprim. The drug is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that affects those with weakend immune systems, such as those with AIDS.

When Shkreli’s pharmaceutical company acquired the patent for the drug, they increased the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. (That’s a more than 5000 percent hike, and there is no generic option available.) It was a scandal that rocked the country. Shkreli was instantly torn apart on the internet, and the decision was widely criticized by the medical community.

But here is the good news: A group of gifted teenagers in Australia have just been able to recreate the active ingredient in Daraprim… for just $20 a pill.That’s right: $20. So much for Shkreli’s claims that the drug had to be so expensive in order for his company to stay in business!

The Australian students used their school’s chemistry lab to conduct their experiments. They called their operation “Breaking Good” (a clever play on the title of T.V. show “Breaking Bad,” in which a chemistry teacher uses his scientific skills to make methamphetamine). However, these kids used their skills for a positive purpose: Creating a life-saving drug that is a necessity among vulnerable populations.

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Here’s the bad news: Shkreli’s company still has distribution rights for the drug, so the teens can’t sell their own version. To make matters worse, Shkreli, who will face trial in June 2017 for securities-fraud charges unrelated to his pharmaceutical company, took social media to mock the kids’ “cook game.”

He said that the students do not understand the cost of doing business.

In another tweet, Shkreli said that the ANDA (Abbreviated New Drug Application) required to bring a drug to market takes five years and costs $5 million, so—factoring in these costs—the students’ drug wouldn’t necessarily be able to be sold at such a low price.

Disappointing news aside, congratulations to these young researchers, and here’s hoping a more affordable version of Daraprim is able to come on the market soon.

h/t: Huffington Post