10 exclusives Mark Cuban told Becker's in April

Mark Cuban and his online drug company are floating prospective deals with more payers and pharmacists, he told Becker's Hospital Review at its 13th Annual Meeting in April. 

He said Cost Plus Drugs' main product isn't the catalog of thousands of discounted drugs currently for sale, but the trust he's working to build with consumers. 

"When nobody is transparent, nobody has to be. And when nobody has to be, it's really easy to charge more," Mr. Cuban said. "When you see an industry like this, it's ripe for disruption."

About a year after launching the online pharmacy, these are 10 new pieces of information he discussed in Chicago on April 4:

1. Mr. Cuban has been in talks with CMS regarding Medicare drug pricing and sent the agency a price list for drugs on April 3. Generic specialty drugs like imatinib, which treats cancer, have been discussed.

In June, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found Medicare recipients could have saved up to $3.6 billion on generic drug costs in 2020 if the program paid the same prices as Cost Plus Drugs. Mr. Cuban tweeted the results, urging President Joe Biden and other elected officials to "have your people call my people and let's get this done."

2. With Cost Plus Drugs offering about 1,100 generics and four brand-name products, Becker's asked Mr. Cuban about his ideal ratio of generics and brand drugs.

"We want them all," he said, with the caveat of controlled substances and specialty drugs not cleared for mail orders. 

Cost Plus Drugs recently added four brand-name drugs: one from IBSA Pharma and three from Janssen, a J&J company. Generic drugs cost anywhere from 20 percent to 70 percent less than brand-name medications, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

3. During his keynote, Mr. Cuban floated the idea of raising the company's $3 pharmacy labor fee to $5 because of "the way that pharmacy handling costs are going right now." He said this could happen in September.

4. The company is working with independent pharmacists and retail grocery chains nationwide to broaden patient access beyond mail-order drugs through an affiliated network. 

"We're putting up a network of pharmacies so that people can pick medications up as opposed to having to do a mail order," he said. "That's happening now."

5. Mr. Cuban called local pharmacists the "lifeblood of care" and said they need more support to stay open because "if we lose them, then the PBMs control everything. I'm gonna do all I can to prevent that."

"It's not to say the big three pharmacies don't have great pharmacists that really care and have relationships," he said, "but you can't trust the pricing."

6. After nabbing Capital Blue Cross as its first payer partner, Cost Plus Drugs is in talks with more insurers for future collaborations. Capital members can use their insurance cards on the site and then get reimbursed or put the cost toward their deductible (if eligible) by submitting a claim. 

"We're talking to a lot of them," Mr. Cuban said. "They see the experience that Capital and their customers have had. Once we connect the insurance companies to our affiliate network, they'll be able to pick up prescriptions."

7. Despite widespread federal and state support for further regulations around PBMs, Mr. Cuban believes the biggest players "could not be happier" with the current political environment.

"[PBMs] have a lot of subsidiaries and they're smart," he said. "They're smarter than the politicians. I think the focus on PBMs is just a shiny object. Anybody in the industry knows it is crazy with all the rebates. But no one's asking the question, if it's not rebates, what will it be?"

8. With his focus on disrupting the PBM space, Mr. Cuban said drug manufacturers have received more flak for high drug costs than they should. He mentioned the recent trimming of insulin list prices to about $30 per month's supply, and said drugmakers are "demonized" while PBMs, payers and pharmacies push the blame for high drug costs to pharmaceutical companies. 

9. Mr. Cuban said Cost Plus Drugs currently employs about 40 people. That figure does not include a 22,000-square-foot, $11 million drug manufacturing facility in Dallas that is expected to open this year.

10. Cost Plus Drugs now has 2.25 million individual accounts, compared to 2 million at the end of February. The company hit the 1 million mark in September 2022.

To attend future conferences with Becker's, contact agendateam@beckershealthcare.com. More information is available here.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars