We already knew the American healthcare system was deeply flawed and that Big Pharma’s goal is to quadruple profits, rather than help patients. But this week, when news leaked that a group of high schoolers in Australia recreated a $750 HIV medication for a whopping $2, it became even more apparent.
Martin Shkreli made a name for himself as one of the worst people ever, when he turned the price of Daraprim, a drug listed on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medications, from $10 to $750 overnight. Used to treat people with low immunity, from HIV + patients to pregnant women, Daraprim’s outrageous price is just another way our culture reinforces HIV stigma and makes privilege synonymous with care.
But students at Sydney Grammar School announced they created 3.7 grams of a generic version, worth $110,000 in The States, with materials that cost only $2. Instead of this being a revolutionary discovery that could help millions of patients, the drug will never be more than a high school science experiment, since Shkreli’s company, Daraprim’s manufacturers, will never allow it to be made. Through a legal loophole called a ‘closed distribution model,’ Turing Pharmaceuticals will remain the only producer and distributor of Daraprim and its variations.
Of course, that means Americans will continue to suffer—all because Shkreli wants to be able to buy more unreleased Wu Tang records. We hope that punch hurt.