Mark Cuban’s latest business venture? Taking on Big Pharma

July 15, 2022

Tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban is shifting gears and launching his own online pharmacy: Cost Plus Drug Company. And a new study says the U.S. government could lower the price of prescriptions by buying generic drugs at the same lower prices Cuban’s offering.

Cost Plus Drug Co. offers an array of generic drugs, including medications for depression or anxiety, insulin to treat diabetes, and blood pressure medications at a much lower cost.

The company “cut out the pharmacy middlemen,” according to its website, and negotiates directly with the manufacturers to get a better price. Every drug is priced the same way: the drug company’s cost plus 15% to cover company costs, plus the pharmacy fee if there is one, and $5 for shipping.

“Many people are spending crazy amounts of money each month just to stay healthy. No American should have to suffer or worse because they can’t afford basic prescription medications,” Cuban says on the company website. “We started this company as an effort to disrupt the drug industry and to do our best to end ridiculous drug prices.”

If Medicare had bought generic prescription drugs at the same prices offered by Cuban, it could have saved $3.6 billion in 2020, according to a new report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School compared the price of 89 generics sold by Cost Plus Drug Co. to the prices Medicare paid in 2020. After adjusting for price changes between 2020 and 2022, when Cost Plus Drugs Co. launched,  researchers found Medicare paid more for 77 generic drugs.

Dr. Hussain Saleem Lalani, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the study’s lead author, told NBC News the savings are “a conservative estimate, so the actual savings are likely higher.”

“There’s a lot more reforms that could be done to optimize the generic drug pricing system, and we should really consider doing those things to lower costs for patients,” he said.

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