Mark Cuban Assails PBMs at AAM meeting

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Cuban, of "Shark Tank' fame and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, called drugs prices ‘insane’ and used some profanity when talking pharmacy benefit managers at the annual meeting of the Association for Accessible Medicines yesterday. Cuban has co-founded an online pharmacy that he says will make drug prices lower and transparent.

Mark Cuban made scathing, profanity-laced remarks about pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and heaped praised on drug manufacturers yesterday during a 26-minute fireside chat interview at the annual meeting of the Association of Accessible Medicines, the trade association of generic drug manufacturers.

Cuban, who has started a low-cost, generic pharmacy called Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs Company, told the audience of generic drug industry executives that they were aware of the “the distortions you face with the PBMs and insurance companies.”

“The fact an insurance company wants you to price your generic at even, sometimes, above a brand price is insane. It is just absolutely freaking insane,” said Cuban, according to a transcript of the conversation distributed by association. “And we are just going to say, ‘F---, that sh-t.Sorry, that’s just not going to happen.”

Cuban said some generic drug manufactures are afraid of the response of the PBMs if his company’s low, transparent policy shows how high the PBMs prices can be. “We’re going to make them look bad and we’re afraid of what they may do to us,” said Cuban, assuming the generic drug manufacturers’ point of view. “We’re afraid they may not include us on their formulary … or play all the games that PBMs play.”

Cuban also said PBMs have done a “phenomenal job of demonizing all the manufacturers, generic and brand. Now every patient in the world thinks you guys are the bad guys. Brand manufacturers, they’re the bad guys. That’s wrong. Not that they are harmless, not that they always do things right. But it’s just wrong that you’ve been demonize like that.”

Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, a team in the National Basketball Association, and a frequent judge on “Shark Tank,” the investor reality television show, co-founded the namesake low-cost pharmacy with its CEO, Alex Oshmyansky, M.D., Ph.D., a radiologist. Currently the company only sells generics, but Cuban said yesterday that it was getting ready to sell brand-name drugs. He was coy about sharing any specifics about the company plans for selling insulin and biosimilars but suggested that it would.

Cuban said by the end of this week that Cost Plus Drugs will have two million accounts. “I don’t think we are impacting anybody’s else’s business in a big way, but we’ll get there.”

The company’s pricing starts with a 15% markup on what it paid the manufacturer for the drug. It also charges a $3 pharmacy fee and a $5 shipping fee.

Christine Baeder

Christine Baeder

Cuban told the interviewer, Christine Baeder, a senior vice president and chief operating officer, U.S. generics and biosimilars, for Teva Pharmaceuticals, a large generic drug manager, that the 15% markup was sustainable partly because the company doesn’t for pay for advertising. “You are not going to see guest celebrity doctors doing podcasts. You’re not going to see advertising.”

Baeder also asked why a manufacturer of brand-name drug that is in a monopoly position because of patent protection would do business with Cost Plus Drugs. Cuban said his company would mean lower prices and more prescriptions for drug manufacturers.

“The number of denials is dropping by 90%, and you're able to reach your total addressable market for scripts,” Cuban said. “You're going to be able to maximize your profits and you're not going to have all the ancillary costs. You're going to be far more efficient because you're not having to buy your own data back, you're going to be allowed to have a relationship with the patient, you're not going to have somebody in the middle trying to distort that relationship. And in terms of the perception, you're not going to have to spend all that stupid money on television advertising with the fastest talkers in the world at the end trying to explain why you're a good company.”

Cuban said Cost Plus Drugs does deal with PBMs but not the traditional ones and only PBMs they don’t take rebates and don’t engage in spread pricing.

This story originally appeared on Managed Healthcare Executive.

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