Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect views of the Journal, the William H. Bowen School of Law, or UA Little Rock.
By: Macey Rogers
Billionaire investor Mark Cuban, most known for his role on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and his ownership of the NBA basketball team the Dallas Mavericks, launched Cost Plus Drugs in January of 2022. On the Cost Plus website, the company advertises itself as a company that “offers safe medicines at the lowest possible price.” The goal of Cost Plus is to offer affordable medications to individuals who would not otherwise be able to afford the medications they need. The website offers complete transparency on drug prices, so consumers know exactly what they are spending on the drugs they need, and the profit that is going to the company.
Currently Cost Plus Drugs offers over 800 medications. Each medication lists the form of the medicine, the retail price of the drug, the Cost Plus Drug pricing, and the savings. Although not all medications are offered yet, there are common drugs such as the leukemia medication, Imatinib, that retails for over $2,500 and sells for $14.40 on Cost Plug Drugs. A prescription is required in order to receive the medication. The company partners with Truepill pharmacy to fill its prescriptions.
Another aspect of Cost Plus Drugs that is transparent to consumers is the mark-up prices. On each drug sheet there is a breakdown of exactly where the cost of that medication is going. There is a flat 15% mark up on all the medications. There is also a $3 pharmacy labor fee and a flat $5 shipping fee for each drug. The price that is shown on the website is the actual manufacturer prices. These prices apply to all individuals regardless of whether they have medical insurance or not.
A month after launching Cost Plus Drug, Cuban applied for a building permit in Texas for an . The company is currently constructing the 22,000- foot manufacturing facility outside of Dallas, TX. Cuban has considered leaving his role in ABC’s “Shark Tank” to focus on his pharmaceutical company and his mission to “ Cuban’s company has also recently announced a partnership with pharmacy benefit management company Purchaser Business Group on Heath in an effort to expand the employer-provided health care program.
Cuban has faced some criticism over the company’s low cost drug program. Gabriel Levitt, president of PharmacyChecker, stated that this company “does not address the big elephant in the room.” Levitt went on further to state that Cuban is making the generic drugs cheaper, which he believes are not the drugs at issue in the current market. Brand-name drugs are in fact the issue in the current pharmaceutical market and although they make up less prescriptions the generic drugs, they account for almost 80% of drug expenditures. Cuban has also been criticized for not accepting insurance.
Many politicians have spoken out against Big Pharma, including President Joe Biden. In August 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act passed which aimed to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for seniors. The law gave Medicare the ability to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to discuss some of the more expensive drugs. However, despite the controversy surrounding Big Pharma, in 2020, seventy-two senators and 302 members of the House accepted checks from the pharmaceutical industry.
Notwithstanding the criticism, Mark Cuban has brought affordable pricing to the overly inflated pharmaceutical market. It appears that both Cuban and Congress have begun taking a stand against the current pharmaceutical company in an effort to bring consumers more affordable pricing on life saving drugs.
About the Author: Macey Rogers is a third-year law student at William H. Bowen School of Law. She is a member of the Arkansas Journal for Social Change and Public Service, Full-Time Vice President of the Student Bar Association, a Staff Editor for Law Review, and a Dean’s Fellow.