High school chemistry in the news

A class of Australian students has reinvented the synthesis of the drug Daraprim as a class project.  Daraprim is the HIV drug at the center of the drug pricing storm that blew up during the 2016 US election after Turing Pharmaceuticals increased the price fifty-fold.  Although the students’ sample is chemically identical to Daraprim, it has a new synthesis so would require full safety testing and regulatory approval to get to market. Sad.

Seven high school chemistry labs in the UK were recently visited by the bomb squad to deal with an incorrectly stored chemical used by students.  DNPH or dinitrophenyl hydrazine is usually stored with water because it is explosive when dried.  The schools involved uncovered the problem as part of a national review of chemical storage at schools.   DNPH is used for a color test to identify classes of chemicals in samples as part of chemists’ puzzle-solving training – a colorless DNPH solution makes a bright yellow solid when it contacts specific compounds.  Elementary.