Are you tired of overpaying for prescription medications? Do you want transparent pricing and to avoid dealing with insurance?
Mark Cuban’s newest venture, Cost Plus Drug Company, aims to carve out a price-friendly niche in the marketplace by selling generic drugs directly to consumers.
Cuban appeared on an episode of money expert Clark Howard’s podcast in April 2022 to chat about his ambitious plan to make money while offering much more affordable prescription medications for Americans.
In this article, I’ll explain how Cost Plus Drugs works, why Clark is a fan and why medications at Cost Plus Drugs are often much less expensive than prices at CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens.
Table of Contents
- What Is the Cost Plus Drug Company?
- How To Use Cost Plus Drugs To Save Money on Your Prescriptions
- Why Clark Howard Loves Mark Cuban’s New Drug Company
- The 10 Cost Plus Drugs With the Deepest Discounts vs. the Market Price
- Why Drugs at CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens Are So Expensive
What Is the Cost Plus Drug Company?
The Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” investor, Mark Cuban founded Cost Plus Drug Company after getting an email from Dr. Alex Oshmyansky.
Oshmyansky, a radiologist, had founded Osh Affordable Pharmaceuticals. Cuban liked Dr. Oshmyansky’s pitch and decided to make competing with CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and the pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) his next big venture.
Cost Plus Drug Company sells generic prescription medication with transparent pricing, and you don’t need health insurance to purchase its products.
“We want to be the low-cost provider of medications to patients in the United States. Period. End of story,” Cuban said on a podcast with Clark.
“Everyone should have safe, affordable medicines with transparent prices.”
About 18 million Americans were unable to afford at least one doctor-prescribed medication within the last three months. That’s according to a Gallup poll conducted in September 2021.
Cost Plus Drug Company launched on Jan. 19, 2022. It offers nearly 500 of medications on its direct-to-consumer website. Cuban recently said the company hopes to offer insulin direct to customers.
The company is also building a 22,000-square-foot manufacturing factory in Dallas.
How Cost Plus Drugs Works
Cost Plus Drugs buys medications from other manufacturers or wholesalers and plans to manufacture medications in its own factory.
The company offers transparent pricing: a 15% markup, a $3 prescription fill cost for their pharmacists and $5 for shipping ($15 for expedited shipping). Cost Plus Drugs uses Truepill as the e-commerce infrastructure that ensures your medicine gets delivered to your doorstep.
“We’re doing everything possible to keep our prices low because, in my mind, one of the worst, most outrageous things that happens in this country is that people have to choose between rent, food and medication,” Cuban says. “That just should not be the case.”
How To Use Cost Plus Drugs To Save Money on Your Prescriptions
You can type in a medication name on the Cost Plus Drugs website to see the price it offers. You’ll be able to get only the generic version of the drug through Cuban’s company. If the price you find on the site is significantly lower than what you currently pay, it may make sense to switch to Cost Plus Drugs to fill your prescriptions.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on using Cost Plus Drugs to buy your medications.
1. Register for an Account Online
Visit costplusdrugs.com to get started. You’ll need to fill out basic information about yourself and your medical history.
The site will ask you questions about your allergies, health conditions and current medications. This is for your own benefit so that the pharmacy filling your prescription can avoid sending you medication that can cause a bad reaction for you.
It should take no more than 15 minutes to register on the website.
2. Search the Database of Available Medications
Cuban’s company makes it simple and easy to search for the medication you’re taking. If Cost Plus Drugs offers it, you’ll immediately get a breakdown of how much the drug costs, including transparent pricing.
If Cost Plus doesn’t yet offer the medication you want, you can submit a request.
The database also lets you search by category (examples: diabetes, cough, mental health).
3. Ask Your Doctor To Submit Your Prescription
You’ll need to ask your physician to submit your prescription to Cost Plus Drugs. There are three ways:
- Call a phone number.
- Use the team’s electronic prescription service.
- Fax in a request form.
Your medical provider should be able to take care of this for you. Normally, your doctor will ask you where you want to fill the prescription. Instead of requesting it to get sent to the nearest CVS or Walgreens, you can ask for it to go through Cost Plus Drugs.
Why Clark Howard Loves Mark Cuban’s New Drug Company
During a period of sustained high inflation, Clark has focused on passing along money-saving tips to help consumers stretch their dollars further. One of his biggest pet peeves of late, as he’s doubled down on this mission, are overpriced pharmacies that gouge customers even on generic medications.
Naturally, he’s thrilled with Cuban’s attempt to lower prices on generic medications.
“I love that [Cuban] has the guts to take on an industry that so many other people have basically thrown up their hands about and said, ‘Ah, well.’ That’s not how he’s going to play it,” Clark says.
“There’s a lot of dirty dealing that goes on from those pharmacy benefits managers that handle those prescription plans where we work if we get a drug plan from work. And Mark Cuban is trying to make drugs clearer, simpler and cheaper to buy.
“If you are someone who’s a Costco member, compare the cost of prescription drugs at Costco versus what they would be with Cost Plus Drugs. In either case, you’re going to find typically a deal better than you get with insurance.”
The 10 Cost Plus Drugs With the Deepest Discounts vs. the Market Price
The best way to compare how much your medication costs from your local pharmacy to how much it costs through Cost Plus Drugs is to keep your receipt the next time you buy from your pharmacy.
If Cost Plus Drugs carries your medication, and it’s cheaper than buying through your local pharmacy (even with insurance), the only drawback is the shipping time.
The website states that the $5 delivery fee ensures your medication will arrive in 5-7 business days. However, you can also pay $15 for expedited delivery, changing the timeline to 1-3 business days.
It’s tough to know precisely how much you could save on the medication you buy from your local pharmacy without comparison shopping. However, the Cost Plus Drugs website displays the amount it can save you from the normal retail price for every medication.
This is more of a guide since prices will vary, but here are the 10 medications for which Cost Plus Drugs says it can save its customers the most money.
|Drug (Generic for)
|Most Common Use
|CostPlus Drugs Price
|Fingolimod HCI (Gilenya)
|Multiple scelerosis (MS)
|Low sodium in the blood
|Multiple scelerosis (MS)
|Remove excess iron
|Dimethyl Fumarate (Tecfidera)
|Multiple scelerosis (MS)
|Omeprazole-Sodium Bicarbonate (Zegerid)
|Acid reflex, heartburn
|Emtricitabine-Tenofovir DF (Truvada)
|HIV, hepatitis B
*Retail cost supplied by Cost Plus Drugs in May 2023. Actual retail price may vary.
Why Drugs at CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens Are So Expensive
The biggest pharmacies and insurance companies in the United States get a lot of blame for exorbitant prices on prescription medications.
That’s a fair criticism most of the time. Often their profit margins are tough to stomach, especially for drugs that customers need in order to live or maintain a good quality of life.
Most of the biggest pharmacy and insurance companies are publicly traded. They have a responsibility to their shareholders to maximize profit and market share that’s in conflict with the best interests of patients.
However, PBMs — pharmacy benefit management companies — are the secret players behind a lot of the biggest profit-chasing brand-name drugs. PBMs work as the “middleman” between pharmacies, insurance companies and drug manufacturers.
According to Clark, a lot of big companies hire PBMs to manage prescription benefits for their employees. There are rebates and discounts involved (Clark calls them “kickbacks”) as part of an opaque business model. With even more corporate mouths to feed, the employee gets stuck with higher costs.
PBMs negotiate deals with the manufacturers of the brand-name versions of drugs, Cuban says. Then the PBM will make a deal with the insurance company and not even offer the generic version of the medication. When the patients go to the pharmacy, their insurance covers only the brand-name medications, which are often dripping with profit margin.
“If [the patients] can’t afford it, they’re out of luck,” Cuban says. “If they don’t have insurance, it’s even worse. [With Cost Plus Drugs,] if you don’t have insurance, you pay the same price. [Even with] insurance, we’re still probably lower than your co-pay and we’ll deliver right to your door.”
Even still it is not like Cuban is doing it for charity. He is straightforward about marking prices up by 15%. The big difference is transparency in pricing.
Comparison shopping takes time and effort. But it’s important to avoid settling for the pharmacy prescription prices at places such as CVS and Walgreens.
Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs offers hundreds of drugs that are cheaper than the traditional retail cost. You may be able to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year by comparing what you pay now to what Cost Plus Drugs offers.
It’s worth running your list of current medications through the company’s website and comparing your prices. If you can save money, ask your medical provider to send those prescriptions to Cost Plus Drugs.