Can't Afford Life-Saving Medicine? Just Make Your Own

Anarchist is leading push to upend the pharmaceutical industry
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2017 4:18 PM CDT
Updated Oct 15, 2017 6:32 AM CDT
Let an Anarchist Teach You to Make Your Own Medicine
Michael Laufer demonstrates his DIY EpiPen, the EpiPencil, which he says can be made at home for $35.   (YouTube)

Don't have $600 to spare for a two-pack of EpiPens? Michael Laufer will show you how to make your own for $35. Need a cure for hepatitis C but don't have $84,000 laying around for Sovaldi? The anarchist says his DIY version will run you $800 or less. Whether you're desperate or courageous enough to try homemade pharmaceuticals is another question entirely. Horrified on an ethical level by drug companies charging patients up to $750,000 per yer for life-saving medicine, Laufer is taking on the pharmaceutical industry by giving away instructions and recipes to make your own desktop lab and medicines, STAT reports in a fascinating longread. “To deny someone access to a lifesaving medication is murder,” Laufer says. And while he characterizes what he's doing as "an emancipation of knowledge," he admits its closest relative is probably a criminal meth lab.

Laufer, a 38-year-old anarchist and math teacher, uses "highfalutin" speech, claims to read 18 or 19 languages, spells his name "Mixæl" when he wants to impress, enjoys scallops and champagne, and dresses like a "dandy" (though not when he rides his motorcycle to teach math at San Quentin State Prison). A professor at Oregon Health and Science University calls Laufer a "symptom of the disease, and the disease is drug pricing." Experts definitely don't recommend taking homemade pharmaceuticals, with risks ranging from overdose to contamination, but Laufer says he has a responsibility to share his recipes to prevent the deaths of people who can't afford necessary medicine. Drug companies and the FDA have so far ignored Laufer, and it's impossible to say if anyone has actually taken his DIY pharmaceuticals, but he says he's "going to keep trying." Read the full piece here. (Read more Longform stories.)

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