Cost Plus online pharmacy cutting drug costs

·2 min read

Jun. 26—Paying for prescription drugs has gotten a little less expensive due to an online drug company launched by billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban.

Via the Cost Plus Drug Company website (www.costplusdrugs.com), generic versions of hundreds of medications are discounted.

For example, Cinacalcet, used by patients with kidney disease, retails for more than $1,600 but is available on the Cost Plus Drug website for $21. Heart patients using Lisinopril pay $3 instead of $24. Amlodopine goes for under $4 instead of $50. Colchicine, used to treat gout, is less than $9, compared to the retail price of $176.

"If you don't have insurance or have a high deductible plan, you know that even the most basic medications can cost a fortune," Cuban said on the Cost Plus Drug website. "We started this company as an effort to disrupt the drug industry and to do our best to end ridiculous drug prices."

As its name suggests, the company adds a small markup to the medications.

"Every product we sell is priced exactly the same way: our cost plus 15%, plus the pharmacy fee, if any," he said. "When you get your medicine from Cost Plus Drug Co., you'll always know exactly how we arrived at the price you pay. And as we grow and our costs go down, we will always pass those savings on to you."

The company hopes to have more than 2,000 medications available by the end of the year. And Cuban said he will not spend money on marketing; rather he will rely on word of mouth.

A recent study showed the U.S. government overspending on paying for drugs for the Medicare program.

In a study by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, the cost of 89 drugs sold by Cuban's company was compared what was paid for them via Medicare Part D. Adjusting for price changes,Medicare paid almost $8.1 billion for the medications; Cost Plus Drug's price was $4.5 billion.

The study revealed inefficiencies in the way Medicare pays for drugs and burdensome the existing pharmaceutical distribution and reimbursement system is.

"By one estimate, this supply chain retains 64% of every dollar spent on generic drugs, compared with 25% of every dollar spent on brand-name drugs before rebates," the study said.

Alex Oshmyansky, the CEO of Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug, said, "The markup on potentially lifesaving drugs that people depend on is a problem that can't be ignored. It is imperative that we take action and help expand access to these medications for those who need them most."

dennis.seid@djournal.com