Young — and whoever is next — needs to think hard about how he can find other homes beyond the big platforms and support them with the gift of his music and allow his work to last into eternity. After all, I heard, rock ’n’ roll can never die.
I caught up with Mark Cuban, the entrepreneur, Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” star, who is now taking on the role of pharmacist (really). He discussed the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company, an online outlet that opened this month aiming to offer generic drugs at a deep discount. I’ve edited his answers.
First let me say, I love the name. The drug industry has been notoriously resistant to change, so what prompted you to take on this sector? You’ve said lowering patients’ stress is a goal — why has that not been a goal of Big Pharma?
It started with Daraprim and Martin Shkreli. I figured if he could just bump up prices, we could figure out a way to take them down. In fact, I tried to buy all the Daraprim being made so I could give it away. But there are laws against that. My partner Alex Oshmyansky helped me understand where and how we could bring down pricing with generics. Together, we figured out that it wasn’t cheap or fast to do, but we could create a platform that changed the economics for many generic drugs.
With so many entwined stakeholders with the legacy or start-up companies, it’s really hard to be the low-cost provider, but that is our complete focus. For competitive reasons, other outfits don’t want to be completely transparent with their costs. They want to expand their margins. When we lower our costs, our customers will see our costs and see their price go down. And, we think we can lower our costs even lower than they are now, particularly with the plant we are building in Dallas. Making our own will be great in so many ways, not the least of which is simplicity for our supply chain.
You don’t take insurance but make the point that your prices are often below what those who use insurance pay for their medications. Similar low-cost schemes have been tried by several health start-ups. What is your assessment of the current efficiency of insurance companies?
If efficiency and insurance were synonymous, administering insurance wouldn’t make up 21 percent of health care costs in this country. Every contract between payer and provider is its own silo with its own costs. Cost Plus Drugs is designed to avoid that.