When universal health care fails to pass in Congress, there’s always Mark Cuban to fall back on. The billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner launched an online pharmacy this week in order to combat the price gouging of prescription drugs by large pharmaceutical companies.
The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Co. (MCCPDC) will offer more than 100 generic drugs that will be purchased directly from the manufacturers and sold online with a 15 percent markup across the board and a small pharmacist fee. For context, pharmaceutical companies generally mark prices up at least 100 percent and up to 1000 percent in some cases.
One example of how significant the difference Cuban is making with this new pharmacy can be found in the price of the drug imatinib, which is used to treat leukemia. The retail price is over $9,000 per month. The voucher price is $120. And the MCCPDC price — $47 a month. While not all of the markdowns will come at a rate quite this staggering — for instance, a common cholesterol medication that goes for $55 will be sold on Cuban’s site for under $4 — it’s still undoubtedly making a difference for American customers.
He told Forbes last year, when he originally became involved in the creation of a low-cost drug company, that he wanted to “show capitalism can be compassionate.” To rely on the compassion of the insanely wealthy is perhaps not the most stable economic system one could imagine, particularly when these sorts of events are noteworthy rather than a common occurrence. But if there’s no regulation to pharmaceutical price hiking, Cuban is all we’ve got.
The announcement has received widespread acclaim on social media from Americans with stories of themselves and their family members being overcharged for life-saving drugs. Jason Call, a 2022 Congressional candidate from Washington, tweeted in response to news of the launch, “Have we found a ‘good billionaire’? Probably not, but this seems a better idea than anything our Pharma owned Congress can muster.”
The MCCPDC does not process insurance claims and requires its customers to pay out of pocket, but the complete prices that they’re offering are lower than many copays that insurance companies currently require.
Cuban has been the majority owner of the Dallas Mavericks since 2000, and has been subjected to a dozen different fines for making critical comments about the NBA, referees, and players, which he says he matches with charitable donations. He has also bid on several major league baseball teams, including the Cubs, Dodgers, and Rangers, and expressed interest in buying the Penguins. He’s known for his short temper at games — former Mavs player Dirk Nowitzki said in 2006 that he needed to stop yelling at the refs all game — and for his staunch political independence.
The Shark Tank judge originally built his fortune with a variety of investments and his own software reselling company, MicroSolutions. He also got into the webcasting field in the 1990s, and his company was acquired by Yahoo! for $5.7 billion in stock, which is now seen as one of the worst Internet acquisitions of all time.