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Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of science... the thrill of discovery... and the agony of failed experiments... the human drama of scientific advancement... This is the Blue Streak Science Podcast!

Dec 18, 2015

What The Hell Was That?

Gabriel Owen of Los Angeles, California answered correctly with "red fox". Shockingly to everyone, including herself, our esteemed host Sophie McManus answered correctly (guessed) as well! She received a smattering of applause while Gabe received a nod of approval.

Next week's sound? Listen to the podcast or tune in to "Science Sunday" on for a live replay of the What The Hell Was That sound! Don't miss it.

This is a pic of a common vole, Microtus arvalis
Common Vole, Microtus arvalis

Blue Streak Science News

A$$**** of the Week

Martin Shkreli is at it again!

Remember him? He’s the asshole who bumped up the price of a 62 year old drug against toxoplasmosis from $13.50 per pill to $750.

He once again has plans to sharply increase the price of a decades-old drug for a serious infectious disease.

This time it’s a drug that treats Chagas disease, a parasitic infection that can cause potentially lethal heart problems.

The plan also is upsetting some organizations that supply drugs for neglected diseases because Shkreli has said he wants to take advantage of a federal program intended to encourage companies to develop such drugs. The program awards vouchers that can be sold to other companies for hundreds of millions of dollars.

This story comes from the New York Times.

Shkreli has said he hopes to obtain such a voucher by getting the Chagas disease drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for sale in the United States. Critics say that it would be another case of the system being abused by awarding a voucher not for developing a new drug but merely for obtaining F.D.A. approval of a drug already used in tropical countries.

Mr. Shkreli declined to comment.

Last month, Shkreli led an investor group that took control of a failing California biotechnology company, buying a majority of its shares on the open market at an average price of about $1.50 a share.

As one of his first moves at KaloBios, Shkreli agreed to license the worldwide rights to one version of benznidazole, a standard treatment for Chagas Disease in South and Central America. Benznidazole has never been approved for sale in the United States but is provided free to patients by the CDC on an experimental basis.

Shkreli said on a conference call with KaloBios investors last week that if the company won F.D.A. approval for benznidazole, it would have exclusive rights to sell it in the United States for at least five years. He said the price would be similar to that of hepatitis C drugs, which cost $60,000 to nearly $100,000 for a course of treatment.

In Latin America, benznidazole costs $50 to $100 for the typical two-month course of treatment.

It is estimated that 300,000 people in the United States have Chagas disease, virtually all of them immigrants from Latin America who were infected before they came.

Chagas is caused by a parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, that is in the feces of an insect called the kissing bug, because it often bites people on the face and lips.

However, few of the cases in the United States are acute cases, and the actual demand for the drug would be very small.

So it seems that the voucher itself could be the real prize. “The only reason for him to do this is to get the voucher and turn around and sell it,” said Dr. Caryn Bern, a Chagas disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco.

Critics say that the award of a voucher for F.D.A. approval of a drug already used in tropical countries is more a get-rich-quick scheme than a benefit to people with neglected diseases.

Martin Shkreli, for your plans to raise the price of benznidazole from $100 per course to over $60,000 per course AND for your intention of stealing money from the taxpayers of the United States, you are the Blue Streak Science A$$**** of the Week!