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Mark Cuban is Disrupting the Pharmaceutical Industry - or Trying to

Yep. You read that correctly. Mark Cuban, the well-known entrepreneur and "Shark Tank" star, has embarked on a mission to revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry with his venture, the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company. Launched in January 2022, this company aims to tackle the high cost of prescription drugs and the frequent shortages that plague the industry by offering affordable and transparent pricing for generic medications.

Addressing High Costs and Shortages

One of the primary objectives of Cost Plus Drugs is to make medications more affordable by bypassing traditional middlemen such as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

(In the United States, a pharmacy benefit manager is a third-party administrator of prescription drug programs for commercial health plans, self-insured employer plans, Medicare Part D plans, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and state government employee plans). By working directly with drug manufacturers, Cost Plus Drugs can offer deep savings to consumers. For example, a drug like Imatinib, which typically costs between $2,000 and $2,500 at a retail pharmacy, is available for $21 through Cost Plus Drugs.

To improve affordability, the company takes the cost of each drug and adds a flat 15% markup, a $3 pharmacy handling fee, and a $5 shipping fee. This transparency in pricing is a cornerstone of the their approach, so that consumers understand exactly what markups they are paying for (CostPlusDrugs) (Fierce Healthcare).

Manufacturing and Innovation

To address drug shortages, Cost Plus Drugs has begun manufacturing its own medications at a $11 million facility in Dallas. This facility utilizes advanced robotic and AI technology to rapidly switch production between different drugs, allowing the company to respond fast to shortages. Initially, the facility produced sterile injectables such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are critical for treating severe allergic reactions and cardiac conditions.

Founder and CEO, Dr. Alex Oshmyansky, highlights the shaky nature of the current pharmaceutical supply chain, where few companies manufacture a given drug, making the system vulnerable to disruptions. By manufacturing in the U.S., Cost Plus Drugs aims to stabilize supply and reduce reliance on foreign production (

Future Plans

Despite progress, Cost Plus Drugs faces challenges, particularly in expanding its range of available medications. The company is experiencing resistance from PBMs and other industry players.

Cuban has expressed confidence in the company's long-term sustainability and impact, emphasizing that even though the company is not yet profitable, it's making a substantial difference in patients' lives by providing affordable medications. They plan to expand its manufacturing capabilities to include pediatric chemotherapy drugs and other essential medications that are often in short supply. Cuban envisions a future where drug shortages are a thing of the past.

I have not personally used Cost Plus Drugs, and it seems a bit weird to put my faith about pharmaceutical reform into Mark Cuban's hands, but it will take someone with resources to change the status quo. I am very curious how this venture will play out! He's growing on me.

The next time you have a pricey prescription, it wouldn’t hurt to inquire whether it’s one they produce! For more about tracking down lower prescription drug pricing, here's an interesting read about how other companies like GoodRx are able to provide discounts.

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