Mark Cuban: Pharma has been 'easiest industry' to disrupt

It's unclear how much Mark Cuban can or will disrupt the pharmaceutical industry, but he told The Athletic he's in the business for the long haul.

For the foreseeable future, he's willing to deficit spend for his startup Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Co., according to the June 14 report. 

"We're not losing that much money," he told The Athletic, which is part of The New York Times. "And if we keep going the way we're going, I'll make a little money. And we'll use it to add more drugs to our factories, so we can make more."

After launching Cost Plus Drugs in January 2022 with about 100 generics, the company has grown to sell about 2,500 medications — including some brand-name drugs — partner with health systems, and manufacture medicines that often are in short supply. 

Cost Plus Drugs prices medicines at their manufacturing cost plus a 15% markup, $5 labor fee and a $5 shipping fee. The formula differs from the standard drug pricing model in which patients often don't know how much their medications will cost until they're at the pharmacy counter. 

The "Shark Tank" star has long talked about how he wants to "f— up" the pharma industry. 

"When I got into the NBA, half of the fun was just f—ing up the NBA," Mr. Cuban told The Athletic. "The fines, everything. Everybody did it this way, and I was like, no. No. That's no fun. And I bought this to have fun, and if you don't like it, fine me. And it worked out great. Same thing with the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare. What can be better?

"We won a championship in 2011, and won, hopefully, a championship in 2024. That's good. But f—ing up the pharmacy industry? Changed healthcare? Who was that guy? That's the real deal. That's a big check the box," said Mr. Cuban, who recently sold his majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks. 

Leaders in the $364 billion pharmacy industry are taking notice

In 2024, Cigna Group's Express Scripts, one of the biggest pharmacy benefit managers in the U.S., launched a similar drug price service that values medications on their acquisition, pharmacy dispensing and service costs. CVS Pharmacy also debuted a new pharmacy reimbursement model that calculates for a drug's cost, a pharmacy services fee and a set markup. 

"It's the easiest industry I've been in to disrupt," Mr. Cuban told The Athletic.

Learn more about the billionaire's business philosophy here.

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