Dallas County

Mark Cuban Launches Online Pharmacy to Provide Cheaper Medicine

The billionaire owner of the Mavericks wants to lower your medical bill.
The billionaire owner of the Mavericks wants to lower your medical bill. TechCrunch via WikiCommons
Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug company launched its online pharmacy on Wednesday, offering 100 different generic drugs, ranging from cancer medication to mental health medicine. The company’s focus is to help shield people from inflated drug prices.

About 18 million people in the U.S. were unable to pay for at least one prescription medication for their household, according to a September 2021 Gallup poll. Additionally, some 10% of Americans have skipped doses of medication to save money.

The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Co. and its online pharmacy are trying to make medication more affordable and put a dent in these numbers. Toward that goal, the company is set to complete construction on its own pharmaceutical factory in Dallas by the end of the year.

The retail price for a drug like Imatinib, which treats leukemia, runs upwards of $9,500 per month, according to a press release from the new company. The lowest price you might pay with a common voucher is $120 a month. But Cuban’s company says it brings that down to $47.

“We will do whatever it takes to get affordable pharmaceuticals to patients,” Alex Oshmyansky, CEO of Cost Plus Drug, said in the press release. “The markup on potentially lifesaving drugs that people depend on is a problem that can’t be ignored. It is imperative that we take action and help expand access to these medications for those who need them most.”

With the launch of the online pharmacy, people can save thousands on medicine for things like mental health disorders, asthma and even cancer. All people need to do is find their medication on the site ask their doctor to send Cost Plus Drugs a prescription, and they’ll fill it for you.

Since the company is a registered pharmaceutical wholesaler, it can bypass middlemen and markups that make some medications so costly. Prices at Cost Plus Drug reflect the actual manufacture prices with a flat 15% margin and pharmacist fee.

Because the company doesn’t pay third-party pharmacy benefit management companies, the online pharmacy has to be a cash-pay venture.

Cost Plus Drug got into the pharmacy benefit management industry in November hoping that if they’re more transparent in their own pricing negotiations, drug prices may go down.

Pharmacy benefit management companies act as an intermediary between drug companies and pharmacies. These companies help negotiate rebates and discounts for employers, health insurers and government health programs.

In recent years, these companies have received backlash for not being open about how much they’re making off rebates or how much they’re actually saving customers. The problem is that these rebates can give pharmacy benefit management companies an incentive to favor more expensive medications, which can drive up drug costs.

According to The Dallas Morning News, a 2019 study found that the state’s taxpayers stood to save $90 million a year if Texas fired the pharmacy benefit management companies handling Medicaid benefits.

Cuban's company says it will help bring some of those savings to everyday people. The pharmacy’s website puts it plainly: “No middlemen. No price games. Huge drug savings.”
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn