Mark Cuban’s quest to making medication less expensive for the average American

Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team and star of the TV show Shark Tank, sponsored a new online pharmacy early this year that wants to lower the rates consumers pay for 100 generic pharmaceuticals.

For example, the leukemia drug imatinib is available for $47 per month through the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs Company (MCCPDC), compared to $120 or more with a typical monthly voucher and a retail price of $9,657.

According to a release, the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Pharmaceuticals Company (MCCPDC) is a certified pharmaceutical wholesaler that buys drugs directly from manufacturers, skipping intermediaries to cut the cost of more than 100 meds.

In two ways, MCCPDC is taking out the middleman.  Because the business model requires consumers to pay out of pocket, insurance providers are not participating. In October, the corporation also established its pharmacy business management organization, allowing it to directly negotiate costs with drug manufacturers.

Customers must pay for their meds out of pocket because the company does not include insurance claims, despite the fact that its pharmaceuticals are less expensive than most insurance plans' deductibles and copays.

Other low-cost generics include mesalamine, a medication for ulcerative colitis that costs $32.40 per month on the MCCPDC e-health platform compared to $940 per month at retail. In addition, the MCCPDC will charge $8.70 per month for the gout medicine colchicine, compared to $182 per month at retail.                              

Text Box: “The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company, PBC (MCCPDC)is fundamentally changing the way the pharmaceutical industry operates. As a public-benefit corporation (PBC), our social mission of improving public health is just as important as the bottom line. We've built a vertically-integrated supply chain to transparently charge a standard markup on every drug we sell.” - MCCPDC

The six-month old venture is receiving enormous media interest, owing in part to claims of huge cost reductions and in part to Cuban's celebrity profile. Since the new internet pharmacy was launched in January, Forbes, NPR, and TMZ have all reported on it. It charges consumers 15% more for generic drugs than the manufacturer costs, including a $3 fee for pharmacists and $5 for shipping. Consumers will still need a medical recommendation to obtain the drugs.

In January last year, MCCPDC CEO Alex Oshmyansky pitched Cuban a proposal for a low-cost generic pharma firm. They were inspired by "Pharma Bro" Martin Shrkeli's price raise of the life-saving medicine Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill while he was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Last year, Cuban told Forbes that the cost of generic medications was crazy.  He claimed he insisted on naming the online pharmaceutical after himself to "show capitalism can be compassionate" and to "send the message I am all in." It's unclear how much money he put into the firm.

By the end of the year, the business hopes to have completed the building of an $11 million pharmaceutical facility in Dallas, which would span around 22,000 square feet.

For more information visit: Mark Cuban CostPlus Drug Company.

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