Billionaire Mark Cuban Opens Online Pharmacy To Slash Cost Of Meds

It's common knowledge at this point that drug prices in the United States are completely out of control.

Billionaire Mark Cuban has wanted to do something about it for quite some time now, and that desire has finally translated into action, as the Dallas Mavericks owner announced that he's opening his own online pharmacy with affordable drug prices.

How expensive can drugs be?

Unsplash | Myriam Zilles

According to some estimates, prescription drug prices in the United States are more than 250% higher than prices in other countries.

Brand name drugs are even more expensive. This means that for many Americans, getting the prescription they need is impossible.

Enter Mark Cuban.

Wikipedia | Gage Skidmore

Cuban is an entrepreneur who's known for making big splashes. From humble beginnings, he made his fortune in tech in the late '80s, invested in various startups and eventually bought the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise for $285 million in 2000.

Now, he's founded the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs Company (MCCPDC).

It's a legitimate pharmaceutical wholesaler that buys generic drugs directly from the manufacturers, getting bulk discounts and cutting out the middleman, and then selling to consumers. The only goal, Cuban has bluntly stated, is to charge the lowest price possible.

You can thank Martin Shkreli for the inspiration.

Remember Martin Shkreli? The 'Pharma Bro'? He made headlines for hiking the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

Cuban, along with MCCPDC CEO Alex Oshmyansky, saw this, realized drug prices were out of control, and pledged to fix the problem.

What kind of discounts are we talking about?

Unsplash | Sharon McCutcheon

Let's look at Imatinib, a leukemia drug. The retail price is $9,657 per month, and the lowest price with a common voucher is $120 per month. Cuban's pharmacy is offering it for just $47 a month.

It's taken a few years of planning.

In an informal Twitter Q&A, Cuban said that it's taken at least three years to get to this point. He's also noted that he put his name front and center on the company to show that he's all in.

It isn't a nonprofit.

The ins and outs of for-profit and nonprofit can be confusing, so we'll just have to take Cuban's word for it that the nonprofit route is too limiting.

Cuban continually reiterated that lowest cost was the driving goal of the company.

"The only number that matters is our cost."

In this tweet, Cuban may have shown his hand with regards to his long-term plan. It sounds like while he wants to offer low-cost drugs in the short term, he'd like to get drug prices lowered across the board in the long term.

It's a fascinating example of entrepreneurial spirit.

When a billionaire starts a new company, the goal is usually to line their own pockets. Cuban's venture, on the other hand, appears to be entirely noble and altruistic in nature.

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