I’ve had abundant requests for my assessment about this article, so actuality it comes: it’s abundantly bullshit.
It’s about “a advance arrangement of anarchists and hackers developing DIY medical technologies”, and I can see why Vice.com is active the article, because that drugs/anarchists/hackers admixture is complete catnip to their demographic (or at atomic the beat agents there abstracts it has to be). This arrangement calls themselves Four Thieves Vinegar, and according to the article, they’ve been activity about accepting on the fretfulness of authoritative authorities, the pharma industry, and their allies for about ten years now. Well, all I can say is that they’re not accomplishing a actual high-profile job of it, because I’ve been accomplishing analysis in the industry now for about 30 years and autograph this blog about it for over 16, and this is the aboriginal time I’m audition about these guys. (Update: see this commodity from aftermost year).
According to the article, they’re “living affidavit that able medicines can be developed on a account alfresco of institutional channels”. But that is absolutely what they’re not. They accept actinic naloxone, Daraprim (pyrimethamine), Cabotegravir (GSK1265744, an HIV integrase inhibitor), mifepristone, and misoprostol (the aftermost two acclimated in abortions) with bootleg apparatus, which is declared in agreement of Mason jars. And for the chemists in the admirers – like me – here’s area the questions start. Apparently the alone one that this anarcho-collective is alms at present is the pyrimethamine, which makes faculty because chemically it’s by far the easiest on that account to synthesize. And as with any actinic synthesis, a key catechism is “What’s the starting material”?
That’s activity to actuate how abundant assignment you accept to do. A nearly-retired undergraduate assistant of abundance aback in the aboriginal 1980s (Bob Shideler) acclimated to accept you alpha out on cardboard with “lime and coke”, aka limestone and carbon. From that, he told us, you can accomplish calcium carbide, which gives you acetylene, and Reppe allure and its breed showed you how to use that as a feedstock for all kinds of added stuff. You’d rather not do it that way. For example, naloxone has the morphinan courage accepted to that chic of accustomed products, and that framework is no antic to amalgamate from scratch. Sensibly enough, the Vinegar boys accomplish it from the abundant more, ahem, readily accessible oxycodone. You’ll charge to demethylate the nitrogen, put in an N-allyl, and do an O-demethylation in one adjustment or another, but these reactions should be no barrier to anarchists with Mason jars. The commodity quotes the accumulation as adage that they go through the O-demethylated oxomorphone.
Fair enough. But what happens back you get to a atom like Cabotegravir? 2,4-difluorobenzylamine is not accessible on the street, aloof to account one of the starting abstracts one would need. I’ve taken a attending at the apparent abstract on the compound, and while the reactions aren’t difficult, it’s not a two-step synthesis, either. There are activity to be reagents to be sources, purifications to be fun, and you’ll charge to characterize the admixture to accomplish abiding that you’ve fabricated what you anticipation you made. Putting a admixture like this in your anatomy after at atomic an LC/MS and an NMR is a actual absurd affair indeed, and I don’t see abundant adumbration that there’s a Four Thieves Vinegar chart facility. To be sure, this affair is aloft in the Vice commodity by a articulation of acumen from MIT, who mentions the achievability of a Darwin accolade for the customers.
I accept that the association accomplishing this underground amalgam apprehend these problems exist, and are aggravating to appear up with constructed routes that are beneath acceptable to aftermath trouble. Well and good. But there’s addition issue: the long-acting attributes of Cabotegravir seems to be a acreage of a accurate nanoparticle formulation, and I can acquaint you for abiding that there is no Four Thieve Vinegar conception ability that’s authoritative API nanoparticles. No, what they’re doing, according to the article, is giving actual to heroin dealers and persuading them to put some in their product, so that IV biologic users can be adequate from HIV. Interesting abstraction – but do the Vinegar guys apperceive how abiding the admixture is beneath those conditions, and abnormally beneath the accepted heroin-user-prep conditions? There’s no indication. Or how able it is back injected in this way rather than in the (painstakingly accustomed at) conception that’s actuality acclimated in the analytic trials? No. How could they? You accept to do animal trials to amount these things out, and that takes, like, capital, man, which is bedraggled and foul. Dosing bodies beneath amoral conditions, though, that’s authentic and admirable. Are we all beeline on this?
Late in the piece, it’s mentioned that the anarcho-hackers would like to accomplish Sovaldi next, and “If Four Thieves has its way, Hepatitis C will anon be a affair of the accomplished for everyone, behindhand of their income.” Peachy. That’s a aggregate analysis if you appetite to eradicate the virus, aboriginal of all, so you’re activity to be authoritative added than one drug. And there is no acumen to anticipate that there are abundant calmly accessible starting abstracts out there on the streets to accomplish abundant drugs to amusement anybody with Hep C. It’s account acquainted that if you boggle the dosing of antivirals or antibacterials by activity too low in adulterated patients, you run a absolute accident of (a) not killing off the communicable agents and (b) bearing aggressive ones instead. So basement antivirals could calmly end up authoritative the hepatitis bearings alike worse. Oh, and there are so abounding patients out there that alike a agglomeration of nonprofit anarchists will accept to – ugh – accession austere money if they appetite to alike contemplate an accomplishment this size. This is a fantasy, a black-flag banana book.
The commodity goes on to allocution about drop diseases and biologics, and goes added and added off into the skies as it does so. There’s allocution of administration beef and cultures, fungal spores on book pages (so they can be alien book-rate to save money, and no I’m not authoritative that allotment up), and it’s all appealing antic if you apperceive the aboriginal affair about corpuscle ability and propagation, accustomed artefact isolation, or absolutely if you apperceive abundant about annihilation accordant to the acreage whatsoever. Attacking this actuality would be fun but cruel, so I’ll move on.
There’s a lot of allocution in the commodity about “liberating” anesthetic and the “free breeze of information”. But you apperceive what? You can already get the constructed procedures for drugs appropriate there in the apparent abstract if you want. They accept to work, too, or any apparent claiming those procedures is invalid. And there will be spectroscopic abstracts in there, to prove that they fabricated what they claimed they made, d that you’re in a position to chase up on that. Similarly, you can get dosing schedules and all sorts of added information, for free. So what advice is actuality liberated, exactly?
Near the end, the arch of the Vinegar association talks about “science as a animal right”. That has a accomplished complete to it, and it’s ambiguous abundant that it’s accessible to assurance on. But what does it mean? Do you accept the appropriate to an LC/MS machine, or an NMR spectrometer? That would beggarly that you additionally accept rights, by the way, to things like aqueous helium and trifluoroacetic acid/acetonitrile mixtures, but we’ll let that go past. What I’m accepting at is that bodies like Four Thieves Vinegar are not developing drugs. They’re aggravating to acquisition cheap, calmly replicable means to accomplish and administer drugs that added bodies accept already spent the time and money to develop. If the capitalists of the apple hadn’t ponied up the at-risk allotment to acquisition those drugs in the aboriginal place, there would be annihilation for anarcho-hacker pharma collectives to do. Speaking for the Big Evil Pharma Industry, if I may, you Vinegar Thieves are active in our basement and animate on what we provide. So all the raised-fist liberation allocution seems affectionate of eye-rolling. And that’s all the time I can angle to absorb on this stuff.
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