Billionaire investor Mark Cuban’s self-titled low-cost pharmaceutical company Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company partnered with a major pharmaceutical company this week as the Dallas Mavericks owner looks to access employer benefit programs and compete more directly with pharmacy giants like CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens.
Cuban’s drug company announced on Thursday it is partnering with pharmacy benefit management company Purchaser Business Group on Health—expanding the employer-provided health care program by allowing Americans to sign up through its subsidiary, EmsanaRX Plus, for low-cost drugs offered by Cuban’s company.
Through the program, customers must request a prescription from a U.S.-based provider in order to purchase medication from its website, while employers can now use Emsana RX as a supplement to existing health benefits packages for lower-cost drugs.
Rather than working through major insurance providers, Cuban’s company, which offers more than 100 generic medications, uses a fixed 15% mark-up and a $3 pharmacist fee, boasting to eliminate the middleman and have no hidden costs.
The company, which works with Truepill pharmacy to fill prescriptions, says it buys medications directly from third-party suppliers and plans to manufacture its own products upon the completion of a 22,000-foot plant, which is currently under construction outside Dallas.
Cuban, who sold his internet radio company Broadcast.com to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion in 1999, launched the low-cost pharmaceutical company last January. One month later, it applied for a building permit for an $11 million drug manufacturing plant in Texas. Since the company does not process insurance claims, Cuban said the cost of medication through the company is less than the cost patients are paying in co-pay or a deductible through a traditional healthcare provider, he said, speaking to CBS News in February. He told Axios in January, “not everyone sets the goal of being the lowest cost producer and provider.” Prescription drug costs continue to surge in the U.S., where people pay the most for prescription drugs than any other country, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle have blasted the high price of prescription drug costs in recent years. It was also a central piece of the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, which imposed a $35 monthly cap on insulin and a $2,000 out-of-pocket cap on prescription drug costs for Medicare patients. Biden signed that bill into law in August after it narrowly passed the Senate.
Cuban, a celebrity judge on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” said in a press release that his company and the Purchaser Business Group on Health are “working to disrupt the current pharmacy supply chain to eliminate the unnecessary markup and profiteering” that has long been “burdening businesses and consumers.”
After 13 seasons as a panelist on “Shark Tank,” Cuban said he’s considering leaving the show to focus on his low-cost drug company, telling Forbes in September, “part of me wants to quit” and that the show will “survive fine without me.” Since joining the show’s panel in 2011, he has appeared on every episode.
$14.40. That’s how much the company’s website charges for leukemia treatment medication Imatinib (commonly sold as Gleevec), a drop in the bucket of the $2,502 retail price. Albendazole (commonly sold as Albenza and used to treat tapeworms) is listed on the site for $33, well below the $437 retail price.
Cuban’s company has been criticized for offering a limited number of name-brand drugs and only providing some generic drugs. That system keeps patients “locked outside in the cold when it comes to brand drugs, PharmacyChecker vice-president of operations and communications Lucia Mueller told Healthline.
We estimate Cuban is worth $4.6 billion, making him the 585th richest person in the world.