Patients Before Profits? Possibly
Mark Cuban’s Attempt to Disrupt Pharmaceutical Industry
As many as 18 million Americans can’t afford their prescribed medications, according to a 2022 West Health/Gallup poll. While it doesn’t take much research to understand that healthcare is expensive, it often requires patients to do a lot of research to figure out how to get the best rate for their prescriptions. Now, a new (and somewhat surprising) option comes to the forefront.
Drugs at a discount
Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks team owner, billionaire businessman, and “Shark Tank” panelist, has launched Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs (MCCPDC). This direct-to-consumer website offers several generic medications at discounted prices. It’s a step that is seen as a disruptor in the pharmaceutical industry, and some experts say it’s a way for Cuban to prove he’s more concerned about the welfare of patients than pulling in profits. Company press releases explain, “As a public-benefit corporation, its social mission of improving public health is just as important as the bottom line.”
The concept came to light after a 33-year-old radiologist named Dr. Alex Oshmyansky reached out to Cuban via email with the subject line “Cold pitch.” The businessman is famous for opening cold emails and took interest in investing in an idea to cut out the middleman and save billions on prescription drug costs. “Mark saw a huge societal problem with a pretty direct solution: Just make and sell medicines for less,” Oshmyansky told Inc. magazine.
MCCPDC pledges to be “radically transparent” in its negotiations with drug companies and reveal the true costs it pays for drugs, eliminating spread pricing and misaligned rebate incentives.
How it works
MCCPDC is technically registered as a “wholesale drug distributor” instead of a “pharmacy” because it does not fill prescriptions; it works with TruePill, a partner pharmacy, to dispense the medications. MCCPDC sets prices by negotiating directly with manufacturers, adds a 15% markup, and a $3 fee for pharmacy labor and the cost of shipping.
While the company does not accept insurance, it accepts a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account card to pay for orders. When patients want to order, the process is pretty straightforward. On the MCCPDC website, search for the medication name or medical condition. When a user locates their medication, they are prompted to sign up for an account, and then directed to reach out to their doctor or healthcare provider with specific instructions for getting the script approved. When MCCPDC receives an authorized prescription, medications are shipped directly to the patient.
Currently, hundreds of common (and often life-saving) medications are searchable on the website and offered at the lowest possible prices. This includes drugs used to treat cancer, dementia, diabetes, HIV, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s Disease, gastrointestinal issues, seizures, and more. A state-of-the-art pharmaceutical factory is currently being built in Dallas (slated for completion by the end of 2022); it will produce other medications, increase supply, and keep costs low. Cuban also notes that he hopes MCCPDC will ultimately be able to work with insurance companies.
How Bridgewell can assist
Anyone who uses prescription medications, particularly patients with chronic conditions, could benefit from checking out MCCPDC’s offerings to see how much may be saved with the discounted prices. These prices should always be compared to those offered through their insurance coverage.
It is also important that patients make sure their entire care team is aware of all the medications they are taking. When a patient uses a different pharmacy and pays cash for their medications, their local pharmacist may not be aware to look for potential drug-drug interactions.
While it’s important to discuss options with your doctor or healthcare professional, Bridgewell Medical’s medication management teams can also help. We develop relationships with providers, patients, and health plans to provide the highest quality medication therapy management (MTM) services to patients. Our experts are always searching for ways to lower the overall cost of healthcare and are also vigilant and make sure patients understand all their medications and that they work as they should to improve health. Sometimes adjustments can be made and patients can take different (and possibly less expensive) medications or fewer drugs overall. Learn more about our services and how they may benefit you.