Can Mark Cuban Save You Money on Prescription Drugs?
Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and “Shark Tank” star, has a new online pharmacy that could make your prescription medications more affordable.
In January, Cuban announced the launch of the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company. Currently, 150 generic prescription medications are available on the pharmacy website, costplusdrugs.com. Medications are priced at cost plus a 15% markup and a $3 pharmacist fee.
A recent Harvard Medical School study highlighted the potential savings in Cuban’s new venture. Researchers found that Medicare could have saved $3.6 billion in 2020 alone had it purchased various generic drugs through the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company. That amounts to a 37% savings on the $9.6 billion spent on 77 different generic drugs, assuming that Medicare ordered a 90-day supply of each.
To understand how pricing works, take the example of a 30-day prescription of Colchicine, a generic version of anti-inflammatory medication Colcrys that’s commonly used to treat gout. The drug’s retail price is $176.10, but only costs $4.80 to manufacture.
Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Company charges the $4.80 cost to make the drug, plus $0.90 for the markup, plus the $3 pharmacist fee. The total cost for a 30-day supply: $8.70.
Some other common medications the online pharmacy offers include:
- Albendazole, which is used to treat parasitic infections, costs $33. Its retail price is $437.68.
- Fluoxetine, the generic version of antidepressant Prozac, costs $3.90. Its retail price is $21.90.
- Imatinib, a drug that treats leukemia and other cancers, costs $14.40. Its retail price is $2,502.60.
- Lisinopril, a medication used to lower high blood pressure, costs $3.60. Its retail price is $24.
- Mesalamine, which is used to treat ulcerative colitis, costs $32.40. Its retail price is $940.20.
Does the Pharmacy Accept Insurance?
No. Cost Plus Drug Company doesn’t accept insurance because it doesn’t work with third-party pharmacy benefit management companies that manage drug benefits on behalf of insurers. That means patients will have to pay out of pocket. However, the company’s website states that its prices are often lower than a patient’s co-pay for the same drug at a retail pharmacy.
If you have a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA), you can use your HSA/FSA card to pay for medications.
Are Coupons Accepted?
No, the pharmacy doesn’t currently accept coupons.
How Much Is Delivery?
Shipping costs $5 and is provided by digital healthcare company Truepill.
How Do I Order Prescriptions?
Use the pharmacy’s website to see if the medication you’re taking is available. Then you can contact your doctor and ask them to send your prescriptions directly to the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company.
What if My Medication Isn’t Offered?
The pharmacy currently offers 150 generic drugs, though it plans to add more to its roster. If you’re taking a brand-name medication, you could ask your doctor if you could switch to the generic version.
Other options for lowering the cost of your prescription drugs:
- Use Amazon Prime. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can save up to 80% on generic drugs and 40% on name-brand medications through Amazon Pharmacy if you’re paying without insurance. Most insurance plans are accepted, though. You’ll also receive free shipping, which can take up to five days, though you can pay $5.99 to expedite shipping.
- Use a prescription discount card. With a prescription discount card service, you can search for a pharmacy near you that offers the lowest pricing on your medication. After you’ve chosen your pharmacy, print out the coupon or show the pharmacist the code using the mobile app. If you have insurance, you can ask the pharmacist whether it’s cheaper to use the discount code or go through your insurance and pay the co-pay. (You can’t use both insurance and a discount card for the same prescription.)
- Try other mail-order pharmacies. Mail-order pharmacies can often save you money on prescription medications. Because delivery can be slow, this option is best for drugs you take regularly so that you can order them at least two weeks in advance. You can often save even more money by ordering a 90-day supply instead of a 30-day supply.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected] or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community.