Mark Cuban has launched an online pharmacy meant to drive drug prices down.
Billionaire Mark Cuban, investor, entrepreneur, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, opened the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company last Wednesday. It is meant, specifically, to be a low-cost option for all generic prescription medications.
“All drugs are priced at cost plus 15 percent,” tweeted Cuban. ‘Cost,’ in this case means the cost of purchase directly from generic manufacturers, and the 15 percent markup is a small fraction of what most other pharmacies, many of whom buy from intermediary distribution centers, charge.
A Gallup poll released last September revealed that 18 million Americans – over a tenth of all people using prescription medications regularly – were unable to afford at least one doctor-prescribed medication in the previous three months. Drug price hikes have been major news, such as when felon and billionaire Martin Shkreli raised the price of the antiparasitic drug Daraprim from $13.50 per dose to over $750. Daraprim, extremely important to anyone with AIDS who has ever been near or might be near a cat, was suddenly out of reach for most patients, even with insurance.
Cuban’s pharmacy won’t accept health insurance, but the prices for most drugs in their inventory are lower than insurance drug copays.
Metformin, for instance, which sells in pharmacies at $20 for a 30-day supply, is available for $3.99 for the same amount. Some discounts are even more remarkable. Imatinib, a drug used in cancer treatment, commonly sells for over $83 a dose. Cuban has it listed for $0.57 per pill.
“The markup on potentially lifesaving drugs that people depend on is a problem that can’t be ignored,” Alex Oshmyansky, CEO of Cuban’s online pharmacy, said in a statement. “It is imperative that we take action and help expand access to these medications for those who need them most.”