How illegal drugs could save your life

Have you ever been to the USA? A modern-day mixture of sprawling cities and wide-open spaces, in all 50 states there isn’t much that can’t be found. For hundreds of years, people have traveled thousands of miles to pursue the American dream. However, most of them soon realise it isn’t all its cracked up to be.

If you need health care in the US, you might as well remortgage your house. Even basic drugs cost top dollar. Medicine is a business and it is all about the money. People die because they lack the funds to pay for the drugs they desperately need. Does this sound like the American dream to you?

The pharmaceuticals industry alone is worth $446 billion. Every pill, drug, and device are hugely expensive. A single use EpiPen can cost $600 (around £470) but an ongoing shortage means they are tough to come by, people regularly go into anaphylactic shock and are hospitalized because of the lack of available medicine.

One company are fighting back. Made up of volunteers and hackers Four Thieves Vinegar is publishing posts on how to make your own life-saving equipment at a fraction of the cost.

Their Mission Statement is below:


“People are disenfranchised from access to medicine for various reasons. To circumvent these, we have developed a way for individuals to manufacture their own medications. We have designed an open-source automated lab reactor, which can be built with off-the-shelf parts and can be set to synthesize different medications. This will save hundreds of thousands of lives."

"The main reasons for people being disenfranchised from medicines are price, legality, and lack of infrastructure. Medicines like Solvadi which costs $80,000 for a course of treatment, is beyond the reach of most people. Mifepristone and Misoprostol are unavailable in many places where abortion is illegal. Antiretroviral HIV treatments even when provided free, have no way of getting to remote locations in 3rd world countries."

"The design will be published online, along with synthesis programs. The system will also have a forum system for users to communicate and contribute to the development of the system. With time, the system will become self-sustaining, much like other open source movements.”

Dr. Laufer (creator of Four Thieves Vinegar) isn’t a medical doctor, he has a doctorate in mathematics. He isn’t attempting to replace normal doctors either, instead, he is trying to provide everyone in need with access to lifesaving medications.

When hearing about Four Thieves Vinegar my concern was mainly that these solutions could be used for manufacturing other drugs or to create dangerous narcotics. The website reassures us that this isn’t the case, the equipment they show you how to build cannot be used to mass-produce illegal narcotics and would be of little use to someone hoping to do this.

Four Thieves Vinegar does not claim that their solutions are legal, but the people guilty of copying these devices rarely have any choice. Violate copyright laws or die because they cannot access the medication they need. Is that really a choice?

They don’t think they will save the world, they don’t even believe they will solve the problem, what they are trying to do is help those in need in the only way they know how. Maybe if we all lived by the same principle, these websites wouldn't need to exist, people would not be dying because they couldn't access basic medication.

Want to read more from RLR Distribution? Check out the "The huge problem with AI cybersecurity that could leave you defenseless" post