Billionaire Mark Cuban’s New Firm Seeks to Reduce Drug Costs

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When it comes to lowering America’s notoriously high prescription drug prices, who better to haggle for you than a loud-mouthed NBA team owner best known for bullying referees and hosting a reality TV show?

That’s Shark Tank star and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s plan. He announced on Monday that he’s entering the pharmacy-benefit manager (PMB) market, which bargains with Big Pharma over the cost of your blood pressure pills (you know, the ones you take because you’re so stressed by the cost of your blood pressure pills).

Tanks a lot

The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company — yep, that’s really the name — enters a sector dominated by three more colloquially monikered players: CVS’ Caremark, Cigna’s Express Scripts, or UnitedHealth Group’s OptumRx.

And those managers are on the hot seat: several states, including Ohio, Oklahoma, Georgia, New Mexico, Kansas, Arkansas, and Mississippi are probing whether their pricing and rebate practices are transparent.

To counter those concerns, Cuban’s new firm is pledging to keep its books crystal clear:

  • The company will provide every detail of its operating costs to clients, and give them 100% of the rebates it gets from drugmakers.
  • It is also launching its own online pharmacy to sell 100 of the most commonly prescribed generic medications, charging customers a 15% markup and a $3 fee on top of what it negotiates directly with generic manufacturers.

“We decided the only way to get our drugs to the people who need them is to build a parallel supply chain where we have control of all the intermediary players and ensure the same level of transparency at every level,” Alex Oshmyansky, the company’s CEO, told The Wall Street Journal.

A Shark’s Lark: True to his reality TV form, Cuban tapped Oshmyansky, a radiologist, to run the company after he sent the billionaire a cold pitch email with the PMB idea. Who knows, it could work as well as that time Cuban spent a day managing a Dairy Queen.