By Dr. Lawrence Jones II
Formulary Watch (September 27, 2022) reports that Mark Cuban's company Cost Plus Drug, launched earlier this year in January 2022, has been formed to provide lower-cost generic medications. Cost Plus Drug is a direct-to-consumer pharmacy that now carries almost 1,000 medicines. The company is fundamentally changing the way the pharmaceutical industry operates. The company aims to redefine the pharmaceutical supply chain with transparent prices, which can affect improving public health. In addition, the company has added pharmacy benefit manager Rightway to its pharmacy network.
Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) manage prescription drug benefits on behalf of Medicare Part D drug plans, health insurers, and large employers. Formulary Watch (September 27, 2022) explains that the new relationship grants members of Rightway to have direct access to all medications Plus Drug through its mobile app. Twenter (September 27, 2022) adds the online pharmacy sold about 100 generic drugs with a $3 pharmacy dispensing fee. The additional feature of a $5 shipping fee contributed to the company's million plus customers. CommonWealth Fund (April 22, 2019) explains "that PBMs negotiate with drug manufacturers and pharmacies to control drug spending, which determines total drug costs for insurers, patients' access to medications, and how much pharmacies get paid." PBMs operate in the middle of the distribution chain for prescription drugs.
Data: Adapted from Congressional Budget Office, “Prescription Drug Pricing in the Private Sector,” January 2007.
PhRMA(May 25, 2022) "three largest PBMs are CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, and OptumRx, which manage approximately 80% of all prescriptions." There is a lot of debate over whether PBMs should be able to keep the rebates they receive from drug manufacturers. Cost Plus Drug currently distributes generic drugs. FDA(2022) defines generic drug medicine as medicine that performs the same in the body as the brand-name medicine and has the same composition as brand-name medicines. Dosage, form, and labeling must be the same.
Generic medicines use the same active ingredients as brand-name medicines. Still, they may have minor differences from the brand-name product, such as different inactive ingredients. Mark Cuban realizes, though, that when it comes to brand name drugs, many customers desire those Cost Plus Drug and plans to dispense the brand name drugs. Drug inflation will continue as society ages and as health insurance broadens. The Narrative Matters!
Common Wealth Fund (April 22, 2019). Pharmacy Benefit Managers and Their Role in Drug Spending. Pharmacy Benefit Managers and Their Role in Drug Spending | Commonwealth Fund
FDA. (2022). Generic Drugs: Questions & Answers. Generic Drugs: Questions & Answers | FDA
Formulary Watch (September 27, 2022).First PBM Integrates with Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company. First PBM Integrates with Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company (formularywatch.com)
Mark Cuban (2022). https://youtu.be/qw2nx-I-jAA
PhRMA(May 25, 2022).New Report Finds Largest PBMs Restrict Access to More Than 1,150 Medicines. New Report Finds Largest PBMs Restrict Access to More Than 1,150 Medicines | PhRMA
Twenter,P. (September 27, 2022). Mark Cuban's pharmacy teams up with 1st PBM, won't make its own. Mark Cuban's pharmacy teams up with 1st PBM, won't make its own (beckershospitalreview.com)