The Story So Far in the Daraprim Project
Daraprim is the trade name for the medicine pyrimethamine. The molecule was developed by the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Gertrude Elion and has been available since the 1950s. Originally used for the treatment of malaria, it remains part of the wider malaria toolbox but is most commonly used for the treatment of another parasite, gondii which causes Toxoplasmosis. Daraprim is on the World Health Organisation's list of essential medicines and is cheaply available in most countries.
In 2015, Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the marketing rights for Daraprim and hiked the price of this essential method by 5500% overnight, from $13.50 to $750 a pill. This decision led to considerable public outrage and prompted all three US presidential candidates to vocalise their criticisms of this decision.
Sydney Grammar 2016 Synthesis
In 2016 a group of high school students from Sydney Grammar School worked with their teachers Dr Malcolm Binns and Dr Erin Sheridan to synthesise Daraprim in their school labs. The students were part of OSM's Breaking Good Project and successfully completed the synthetic challenged set by Dr Alice Williamson at the start of 2016. The students developed a route that obviated the requirement for a dangerous reagent (diazomethane) and published their route in open electronic laboratory notebooks.
The students used low cost reagents to create ~4g of the active ingredient of Daraprim - a substance with a ludicrously inflate 'street value' of $130 000 in the US.
What if any Daraprim analogues have been synthesised and evaluated?
Other Toxoplasmosis Drugs
This section is a review of other drugs that have been employed against the toxoplasmosis parasite.