Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Company Adds Invokana
By Andrew Briskin
Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Company recently added SGLT-2 inhibitor Invokana to its list of available medications. The company, which uses an innovative business model to provide drugs at heavily discounted prices, could potentially offer financial relief to millions of Americans.
Expanding further to include its first brand-name diabetes medications, Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Company will now offer Invokana, Invokamet and Invokamet XR (combinations of Invokana and metformin) at a significant discount, potentially improving access and affordability to costly diabetes drugs.
Many Americans, especially those who live with diabetes, are well aware that the US systems for drug pricing and insurance are complicated and can be overwhelming. In large part, this is because drug access is disrupted by factors like different health insurance plans and third-party pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Insurance providers and PBMs negotiate with each other, manufacturers, the government, and individual pharmacy chains to determine pricing and coverage.
While many drug manufacturers offer cost assistance programs to limit high out-of-pocket costs, these programs can be complicated and often restrict eligibility.
What is Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Company?
Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Company created a new model that simplifies the drug supply chain between manufacturers and individuals by excluding PBMs, pharmacies, and health insurers. The company was founded by Dallas-based radiologist, Dr. Alexander Oshmyansky, who lives with diabetes, along with businessman, investor, and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban.
Instead of working through a PBM, Cost Plus Drugs negotiates directly with drug manufacturers for the lowest possible price for each drug. The company buys the drug wholesale, adds 15% to the agreed cost, plus a $3 pharmacy labor fee and $5 shipping fee for each person. Using this model, the company offers 30 tablets of Invokana at $244, down from the official list price of $676. 30-tablet prescriptions for Invokamet and Invokamet XR are listed at $123.60, down from $349 and $324, respectively.
With a prescription from a healthcare provider, people can visit the Cost Plus Drugs online pharmacy portal, pay the listed price with a credit or debit card, and have the medications delivered directly to their door. Additionally, Cost Plus Drugs accepts certain prescription insurance (or pharmacy insurance) plans including Capital Blue Cross, Rightway, and others, and plans to expand these options in the coming months. The company ships medications within the US to all 50 states.
Because the reduced prices are available to people not using insurance, the Cost Plus Drugs system could make a particularly big difference for those who are uninsured and underinsured, who bear the most impact of high drug costs. The simpler pricing model, which cuts out the pharma industry’s “middle men”, often results in much lower costs placed on the individual, even when someone’s insurance plan does provide coverage for their medication.
One of the main limitations to the Cost Plus Drugs system is that most of the medications it currently offers are available as generics, which are already heavily discounted compared to their brand-name counterparts. However, given that Invokana (a brand-name drug) is now available through the system at a more than 60% discount, similar discounts could be extended to many more brand-name drugs. This is especially important for newer classes of diabetes drugs like SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists, which are highly effective glucose-lowering drugs that can protect against diabetes complications, but most of which are expensive and not yet available as generics.
In the United States, about 12% of people with type 2 diabetes use an SGLT-2 inhibitor, and among those who have started one, roughly 50% stop within a year due to high costs and insurance coverage barriers. This new model has the potential to reduce the cost of many more diabetes drugs and could significantly improve access to these medications.
“[Our main goal] is getting every product we can available to those who need it at an affordable price,” Oshmyansky (founder and CEO) said. “I’m a diabetic myself, so diabetes products are definitely a top priority!”
Cost Plus Drugs currently offers more than 1,000 prescription drugs for a wide variety of health conditions. To see which medications are available, visit the Cost Plus Drugs medications page.