USA — Mark Cuban’s pharmaceuticals startup has partnered with pharmacy benefits manager RxPreferred Benefits, the companies announced in an effort to offer lower-cost drugs through some employer-sponsored health insurance plans, Reuters reports.
Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs obtains generic drugs directly from manufacturers and charges a standard markup on each drug sold.
The online pharmacy Cost Plus Drugs was officially launched by Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company (MCCPDC) on 19 January 2022.
With the motto “No middlemen. No price games. Huge drug savings,” Cost Plus Drugs provides over 800 generic drugs that treat common diseases such as leukemia, cancer, and dementia at the lowest possible price.
A leukemia medication called Imatinib, which has a retail price of over US$2,500, is sold for just US$14.40 at Cost Plus Drugs.
The online pharmacy is different from other drug manufacturers and maintains a low price for everyone, regardless of health insurance.
Customers of RxPreferred Benefits will be able to use Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs as part of their health insurance plans as a result of the collaboration.
“Our collaboration with RxPreferred is yet another step toward bringing transparency to healthcare and lowering drug costs for individuals and families across the country,” Cuban said in a statement.
According to experts, exorbitant medication prices lead to most people in the US, including those with leukemia or diabetes to skip their prescribed drugs.
A recent poll from Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), reveals that eight out of ten adults in the US think the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable.
A part of the survey reads, “Affordability is a bigger issue for those who are currently taking four or more prescription medicines.
“Three in ten of those taking four or more prescription drugs say they have difficulty affording their prescriptions (32%), compared to one in five adults who currently take three or fewer prescription medications.”
Regarding groups in the society that find it most difficult to afford medication, the survey further points out that “certain groups are much more likely to report difficulty affording medication, including those who take four or more prescription drugs, those with chronic conditions in their households, and those with an annual household income of less than US$40,000.”
In December, Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs announced a partnership with EmsanaRx, a nonprofit coalition of nearly 40 companies, including Walmart and Costco in the United States, that operates a PBM service for employers.
PBMs act as go-betweens for drug manufacturers, health insurance plans, and pharmacies when it comes to negotiating prescription drug prices.
As this happens, pharmacy benefits managers are on the radar of lawmakers as they prepare to resume Congress sittings.
Some top lawmakers have already promised to investigate PBM practices, accusing them of contributing to the high cost of medicines.
Such criticism has focused on a practice known as spread pricing, in which PBMs charge payers more than the pharmacy charges and keep the difference.
Lawmakers have also called for and introduced legislation to prohibit spread pricing — which the industry claims can be an important “risk mitigation model” for PBMs — and to require public disclosure of the total amount of rebates manufacturers pay to PBMs, as well as how much of that is passed on to health plans.
As they do so, the main PBM lobby, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, is preparing to roll out a policy agenda, claiming that the industry helps patients save money.