A shark comes for the pharmaceutical industry

A minor above just one 12 months in the past, Mark Cuban, the entrepreneur, Shark Tank trader, and one of America’s most well-known billionaires, opened the “Mark Cuban Value Plus Medicines Business.” The enterprise is an on the net pharmacy aimed at shaking up the generic drug industry and, in accordance to Cuban, is a thing that has turned out to be one particular of his most crucial investments to date. The Washington Examiner not long ago spoke to Cuban to see how his undertaking has fared so considerably and if he’s disrupting the pharmaceutical sector as much as he’d prepared.

The price of prescription medication is a burden for lots of men and women. In 2019, the United States spent close to $1,615 for each individual on prescription medicines. Prescription drug price ranges in the U.S. cost 2 1/2 moments extra than they do in 32 other international locations, according to a June 2022 study from the Section of Overall health and Human Providers. Cuban said he has very long been intrigued in healthcare in America, pissed off with growing charges and, particularly, healthcare coverage.


A number of a long time back, Alex Oshmyansky, a youngster prodigy-turned-radiologist with a doctorate in mathematics from Oxford University and a healthcare doctorate from the Duke University School of Medication, approached Cuban with the thought. Right after viewing disgraced pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli increase the charge of his company’s antiparasitic drug from beneath $14 to $750 for every capsule, Oshmyansky thought there must be a way to procure a great deal-required pharmaceutical medications and market them wholesale. After a couple of tries to start out a company that would do just that, he finally cold-pitched Cuban via e-mail for the funds required to match his eyesight. Now, Oshmyansky is the founder and CEO of the Mark Cuban Cost Moreover Drug Corporation, the only a person of Cuban’s enterprise ventures to which he in fact lends his name.

How does it perform? “All any individual has to do is go to costplusdrugs.com and put in their remedies and see not only if we can preserve them funds, but you will see our actual price tag, our markup of 15{1668a97e7bfe6d80c144078b89af180f360665b4ea188e6054b2f93f7302966b}, and the shipping and delivery and pharmacy fee,” Cuban stated. “You can use us with or with no coverage and even if you are on Medicare. We are normally lower charge than your deductible!”

The corporation is a registered pharmaceutical wholesaler, so it negotiates with drug brands for a reduced rate and bypasses other secondary middlemen distributors. In accomplishing so, Cuban’s firm is in a position to steer clear of massive markups on generic drugs so that shoppers acquiring from them get their medications for a preset selling price that features, as Cuban mentioned, a 15{1668a97e7bfe6d80c144078b89af180f360665b4ea188e6054b2f93f7302966b} margin, a $3 pharmacist payment, and a $5 shipping payment.

One of Cuban’s greatest examples of cost savings is the drug imatinib, marketed below the model name Gleevec, typically recommended for grown ups and kids with leukemia. A month’s supply can price tag people upward of $2,500, an great monetary burden. At Cost Additionally Prescription drugs, the identical drugs is $14 a thirty day period. Mesalamine, the generic brand name for Canasa, is a medication made use of to deal with inflammatory bowel disorders, these kinds of as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s condition. A month’s supply retails for nearly $800, but it sells at Value Moreover Medicine for just about $27. Far more widespread medicines are obtainable, way too. Sertraline, the generic title for Zoloft, frequently utilised to treat despair or anxiety, retails at around $74 for every month. At Cost Moreover Medication, it is a lot less than $4.

However Price tag As well as Medicine is not constantly the least expensive possibility. Kaiser Health News lately took a collective sample of generic drug choices from Price In addition Drugs’s internet site and compared the prices of all those identical remedies at numerous pharmacies about the Washington, D.C., location, working with the comparison-browsing web page GoodRx. As reported by the Dallas Early morning Information, in 141 occasions of the 211 prescription drugs compared — each of the prescription drugs made available on Cuban’s website that began with the letter “A” — Kaiser Overall health News located more cost-effective selections accessible in neighborhood pharmacies detailed on GoodRx than provided by Charge Furthermore Medicines. It did notice that in the 70 instances in which Expense Moreover Medication was less costly, the price savings were being often sizeable.

Value Plus Medications does not accept insurance plan, that means drugs are paid for out of pocket. For individuals purchasing genuinely pricey medication, this could press Expense Additionally Medication out of the equation. For extremely low-cost medicine, too, a thing as insignificant as the $5 shipping payment could make the value of particular medicine on Cuban’s web page much more pricey than at neighborhood pharmacies the place shipping and delivery is not necessary. The drugs are also generic, even though the Meals and Drug Administration suggests generic medication is just as efficient if essential substances continue being in the off-manufacturer. A company termed Truepill fills the prescriptions and delivers drugs from the company to the buyer.

In just a yr, the firm went from providing 100 generic medicines to in excess of 1,000, in accordance to Cuban. Incorporating a lot more prescription drugs has compensated off. Cuban claimed Charge Additionally Medicine is now “near 2 million accounts in significantly less than 13 months. We have extra than 1,000 [stock keeping units] obtainable.” EpiPens and insulin are following on the wish listing. Already, Cuban described, his on line pharmacy has “surpassed my anticipations 100 moments.”

The charge and comfort of Price tag In addition Drugs assure it is a direct competitor of outlets such as CVS and Walgreens. In point, it is been so profitable that a further competitor has now emerged: Amazon’s RxPass. RxPass is readily available to Amazon Prime users and presents them obtain to frequent generic drugs for a flat charge of $5 a month. However, so considerably, it only has 50 generic medicines, and it does prohibit eligibility based mostly on insurance policy and the condition where drugs will be delivered. Men and women with Medicare or Medicaid are ineligible, and several states are excluded.

Cuban is unfazed by Amazon’s imitation pharmacy and believes his enterprise remains a notch above. “Anything that lowers the expense of meds is fantastic,” he reported. “But we do not have any membership or regular expenses. And with costplusdrugs.com, your health practitioner can prescribe a few, 6, nine, or 12 months supply that can value fewer than Amazon.”

Yet these sector disruptors like Amazon’s and Cuban’s do share very similar hurdles in their means to compete with standard pharmacies: Chief among these are that Expense Furthermore Medicines and RxPass alike are concentrated on mail shipping and delivery, which, as the Wall Avenue Journal’s David Wainer summed up not long ago, “isn’t likely to change the physical pharmacy at any time soon.”

The key factor that sets Value Plus Medicines apart from opponents, in accordance to Cuban, is the mission-pushed eyesight he and Oshmyansky share: “Every other drug enterprise would like to increase revenues,” Cuban mentioned. “We never. I want to optimize effects. We want to be transparent and exhibit our charge of products marketed. No a single else is eager to do so. That is why no one particular has done this before. It is insane that in the United states in 2023, people today have to pick out among rent, food stuff, and medicine. We want to stop that.”

A shark in the tank he may well be, Cuban sights altruism and capitalism as totally appropriate. “For me, capitalism indicates just getting in a position to start a corporation or operate a enterprise and complete the ambitions that are important to me. It is not just about creating as significantly income as you want to make,” he said in a 2022 Forbes job interview. “Gen Zers and youthful millennials that are coming on to pitch us businesses, there’s constantly a social assemble, there is generally a social mission.”

Talking of capitalism, Cuban’s company acumen and his curiosity in politics have long made him a favourite to operate for political business. It was rumored he thought about throwing his hat in the ring in 2016. What about 2024? “No possibility,” he stated, crafting it off with no a next imagined.


Like quite a few outdoors the Beltway, in particular all those who started out in know-how, Cuban does not have a strict political ideology leaning a single way or the other. He favors cost-free markets but believes a solid governing administration is required for society. “I really don’t significantly treatment what either celebration does,” he mentioned. “If it have been up to me, I would get rid of all political events.”

Speaking at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s once-a-year meeting in January, Cuban claimed the growing accomplishment of Expense Plus Medication displays just how capitalism finds alternatives the place the government fails. “The best way to instruct politicians how to do points is by increasing a business enterprise due to the fact that’s the a single matter they pay out interest to,” he claimed. “They see in which the cash is, figure out what’s working and what is not. By finding out what to do, we can assist make our metropolis or state or region improved.”

Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog site. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who beforehand worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She is an feeling columnist for the Fort Worthy of Star-Telegram.

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