Dallas—To many, Mark Cuban is the uber-passionate owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks. To others, he is best known for his prominent role on the TV series ‘Shark Tank.’
However, like a true entrepreneur, Cuban devotes his time to various business ventures, one of those being Mark Cuban CostPlus Drug Company (MCCPDC).
“We actually have been working on this for more than three years,” Cuban said. “We finally got to the point where we could launch in January.”
Founded in 2018 as Osh Affordable Pharmaceuticals by Dr. Alex Oshmyansky, Cuban provided financial backing for the company, which was rebranded to bear his name just over one year ago. MCCPDC’s mission is to “fundamentally change the way the pharmaceutical industry operates.”
“We started Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company, because every American should have access to safe, affordable medicines,” according to a letter by Cuban on the company’s official website.“If you don’t have insurance or have a high deductible plan, you know even the most basic medications can cost a fortune.
“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.”
MCCPDC offers low-cost versions of high-cost generic drugs by either purchasing generics on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) short list directly from manufacturers or by producing them as a compounding pharmacy.
One early success story has been albendazole, which is used to treat hookworm infections. Albendazole normally costs $500, but Cuban’s company pared the cost to $33 and donated 10,000 doses to areas of the Southern U.S. affected by hookworms.
“We got approval for [albenzadole] first, and we knew we could work with Baylor to get thousands of doses we donated into the hands of people who needed it,” Cuban said.
The online pharmacy operates on a cash-only basis, which allows MCCPDC to charge the lowest prices, often lower than insurance co-pays. However, the biggest drawback with a cash-only approach is that some medications remain only available through insurance.
Being classified a compounding pharmacy means Cuban’s company will often manufacturer generics in its facility, which is slated to open in the Dallas area by the end of 2022.As a compounding pharmacy, the company will be subject to fewer FDA regulations than many of its competitors.
“We can move faster,” Cuban said of the biggest benefit of operating as a compounding pharmacy.
Another big selling point is the “radical transparency” MCCPDC preaches in price negotiations with drug companies, a philosophy where all costs for manufacturing, distributing, and marketing its drugs will be disclosed to company stakeholders.
Cuban said their “radical transparency” pledge has been very well received, calling the response to date “far better than we ever imagined.”
MCCPDC offers just over 100 different generic medications and employed very specific criteria as to which medications it offers.
“We chose those that could save the most people the most money as soon as possible,” Cuban said.
Among the other early success stories are leukemia drug Imatinib, which normally retails for $9,657, but costs only $47 under the Cuban umbrella. Mesalamine, an ulcerative colitis drug, normally retails for $940, but costs only $32 with Cuban’s company, and gout medication Colchicine costs only with Cuban’s company $9, but normally retails for $182.
Since MCCPDC bypasses middlemen and their markups, after buying its medications at cost, the company then adds 15 percent margin and a pharmacist’s fee, creating prices which are still lower than their competitors.
As for how their online pharmacy could impact the market, that information will be tracked in the coming months.
“It’s too early to tell. We don’t know how other companies will respond,” Cuban said. “But if the end result is that drug prices are lower than ours, that’s a win for all of us.”