Martin Shkreli, the infamous former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who hiked the price on a live-saving drug from $13.50 to $750, is making news again. This time, it's for belittling a group of Australian students who replicated the active ingredient in his anti-parasitic medication for just $20, CNN reported.
The drug, Daraprim, is used to treat people with malaria. It is also used for those with weakened immune systems, such as chemotherapy and HIV patients. The group of 17-year-olds recreated the active ingredient in Daraprim, pyrimethamine, in a Sydney Grammar School chemistry lab.
But the 33-year-old so-called “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli was not impressed. He slammed the students’ achievement on Twitter and Periscope.
“These kids who ‘made Daraprim’ reminds me of Ahmed who ‘made the clock,” he tweeted. “Dumb journalists want a feel good story.”
The students worked with scientists from the University of Sydney under the direction of Dr. Alice Williamson and Associate Professor Matthew Todd.
"There were definitely a few obstacles along the way," said Brandon Lee, a Sydney student who took part in the research. "We had to try a lot of different reactions with a lot of different chemicals. But eventually we got there -- it took a bit over a year."
Daraprim is named on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. They produced about $110,000 worth of the replica, according to Turing’s prices, which are inflated 5000 percent. However, they could not sell it due to FDA regulations and Turing’s marketing rights to the drug.
Shkreli also expressed frustration at “the inability for people to understand how drugs come to be made” as social media users tweeted snarky responses to him. He replied to dozens of tweets, mentioning his patent and the complexities that he believes are being overlooked in the students' replication.
“Labor and equipment costs? Didn’t know you could get physical chemists to work for free?” he wrote. “I should use high school kids to make my medicines!”
And Shkreli had a final, Walter White-esque response to the “Breaking Good” project.
“And never, ever compare your cook game to mine,” he tweeted. “Highest yield, best purity, most scale. I have the synthesis game on lock.”
Shkreli was arrested in December 2015 on allegations of securities fraud. He pleaded not guilty during his hearing in July. His trial date has been set for June 26, 2017.