Self-appointed “Pharma Bro”, globally-appointed “most hated man in the world” and wannabe Marvel Comic villain Martin Shkreli has got his face back in the news, but for once, thankfully, it’s not because he’s purposefully been a giant douchebag.
Giving the Wu-Tang Clan one-off album-owning irritant a run for his money, a group of 17-year-old Australian students have recreated the HIV drug that Shrekli famously bought the selling rights to before hiking the price up overnight from US$13.50 to $750 a tablet - an increase of 5000 per cent - thus making is completely unobtainable for many needy sufferers.
What’s more, they’ve managed to do it for dirt cheap.
In their school lab, the Sydney Grammar classmates created the active ingredient in Daraprim – a drug listed on the WHO’s essential medicines and one that requires a course of 100 tablets – for just $2 a dose.
One student, Milan Leonard, described to ABC News the moment they realised their year-long experiment had been successful:
"It was ecstatic, it was bliss, it was euphoric," he said."After all of this time spent working and chemistry being such a high and low, after all the lows, after all the downs, being able to make this drug, it was pure bliss."
"At first there was definitely disbelief," said another student, Brandon Lee. "We spent so long and there were so many obstacles that we not lost hope, but it surprised us like 'oh, we actually made this material' and 'this can actually help people out there'. So it was definitely disbelief but then it turned in to happiness as we realised we finally got to our main goal."
"It wasn't terribly hard but that's really the point, I think, because we're high school students," another of the little brainiacs, Charles Jameson, told the BBC.
Although the boys only produced 3.7 grams of pyrimethamine, the chemical name of Daraprim, the value comes in at a whopping $110,000. What’s more, in a bid to break up Shkreli’s pharmaceutical Monopoly, the students have made their data available on the web for fellow scientists to use in their own testings for a Shkreli-free alternative.
Of course, the colossal dickhead himself piped up on Twitter this morning to react to the pleased-as-punch haters who’ve heralded the news as a beautiful dose of karma:
Sucks to be you, Shkreli.