A DIY Pharmaceutical Revolution Is Coming—If It Doesn’t Kill Us First

Kristen V. Brown | Gizmodo | August 2, 2017

As Mixael Laufer tells it, the vision came to him in El Salvador. Laufer was visiting Central America as a human rights envoy, touring a tiny, rural mountain town with the Marin County Peace and Justice Coalition. When he arrived at the town’s medical clinic, it had just run out of birth control.

“I thought to myself, ‘This is a country where there are there are methamphetamine and ecstasy labs everywhere. Birth control isn’t that much more complicated,’” Laufer told Gizmodo. “‘Why aren’t these people just making their own birth control?’” This, it turned out, would be his life’s big “aha” moment, and the beginning of an obsession. The world is already rife with Walter Whites, cooking up highs at home. Laufer wondered why he couldn’t take the same approach to drugs that are legal.

Laufer has a doctorate in mathematics, not medicine. By day, he’s a math professor at Menlo College, a small private college in the heart of Silicon Valley. He’s also a pharmahacker, the most visible and outspoken member of a small community of hobbyist chemists who believe that pharmaceuticals, like some software, should be open-source and accessible to all. In 2015, he founded the Four Thieves Vinegar collective, a loose consortium of hackers and scientists aiming to kickstart a DIY revolution for legal drugs...