Tag Archives: Drugs

Inside Mark Cuban’s Plan to “F— Up the Drug Industry”

“I could make a fortune from this,” Cuban said. “But I won’t. I’ve got enough money. I’d rather f— up the drug industry in every way possible.”

Mark Cuban, Texas Monthly

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When you deliver something people need for less money than if they schlepped to the store, you win. See: Amazon.

That’s what Mark Cuban of Shark Tank fame is doing with his new startup. Cost Plus Drugs, which just launched two weeks ago, sells a wide variety of generic medications for less than anyone else.

Let’s see how much cheaper Cost Plus Drugs is for some common meds:

Albuterol (Proair) inhaler for asthma: $30 on Cost Plus vs. $86 on GoodRx (for pharmacies near me)

Prednisone (Deltasone) for asthma: about the same on Cost Plus vs. GoodRx

Norgestimate / Ethinyl Estradiol (Ortho Tri-Cyclen (28)) for birth control: $7 on Cost Plus vs. $13 on GoodRx

Atorvastatin (Lipitor) for high cholesterol: $4 on Cost Plus vs. $8 on GoodRx

Imatinib (Gleevec) for leukemia: $17 on Cost Plus vs $120 on GoodRx. Wow.

You don’t need me to tell you that medical care in the United States is ridiculous. Massive bills and no transparency make even me, an unusually fortunate person, hesitant to go to the doctor.

Cost Plus Drugs changes that. You know exactly what you’re paying, every time.

Even better, you know where that money is going. The website clearly breaks down the costs for manufacturing, shipping and labor.

Cost Plus also builds in a 15% profit margin. This may seem greedy, but it’s a lot less than competitors, and they have to make some margin to stay in business and expand.

You can’t disrupt the medical system if you go bankrupt!

Cost Plus has another big advantage: strong word of mouth. From Mark Cuban:

“When people save a lot of money on their medications, they often will tell others they know that have the same challenges. That word of mouth impacts our growth the most.”

This is critical for a consumer company. Consumer companies have to acquire tons of customers that may not spend very much each.

So, the cost of customer acquisition can make or break a company. Cost Plus has a great strategy here to grow organically at zero cost.

Cost Plus plans to begin manufacturing its own drugs and building distribution centers across the country. They’re going to control the whole stack, which is the best way to control prices.

As a startup investor, I’m itching to get in. A huge problem, a brilliant entrepeneur, an innovative solution….what’s not to like?

And as a consumer, you can bet I’ll be getting any meds I need from Cost Plus from now on!

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More on tech:

3D Printing a Human Ear

Why I Just Invested in Deft, the Best Way to Shop Online

Male Contraception With an Ultrasound Device?

Photo: “Mark Cuban” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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10 Years of Legal Weed: Fewer Opioid Deaths, More Jobs and Tax Revenue

I got an interesting message in my e-mail this morning. The NPR Planet Money newsletter reviewed the prior nearly ten years in legal marijuana in some states, and came to some interesting conclusions:

What’s changed:

  • More marijuana use
  • Way more jobs
  • Way more tax revenue. California makes over $600 million a month.

What hasn’t:

  • No effect on crime or traffic accidents
  • No change in price of marijuana. Evidently the product and service at the legal stores is so good people prefer it to anything else.

What might have:

Use of opioids. In the working paper linked from the newsletter, I found this incredible stat:

…Chan, Burkhardt, and Flyr (2020) show that RMLs [recreational marijuana laws] reduce opioid mortality by 20% to 35%, implying that both opioid use and misuse decline as legal marijuana access expands.

Given the mass death caused by opioids, this alone seems like reason enough to legalize marijuana in my book.

I read this newsletter with particular interest since I live in New Jersey, which recently legalized marijuana but doesn’t yet have weed stores the way California, Colorado and other states do. It looks like we mostly have positive changes to look forward to.

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Photo: “Vancouver Global Marijuana March 2015 – by Danny Kresnyak” by Cannabis Culture is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Has Merck Found the Cure for COVID?

Merck has come out with great results from a new drug for COVID:

Over the weekend, the Big Pharma and its biotech partner Ridgeback announced their drug, molnupiravir, hit one of its secondary objectives from a new trial, namely to reduce time to negativity of infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus isolation from swabs in patients with symptomatic COVID-19.

The data show that, at Day 5, there was a reduction in positive viral culture in subjects who received molnupiravir (all doses) compared to placebo: 0% (0/47) for molnupiravir and 24% (6/25) for placebo.

These findings are preliminary, and more data will come out soon:

This is just a peek, with primary endpoints and more secondaries “to be presented at an upcoming medical meeting,” which will show a much clearer picture of how well this drug may be working.

We should know a lot more within the next few weeks:

Data from the phase 2/3 pivotal studies of the med are expected this quarter.

This drug could be great for people who are hesitant to get a vaccine, who haven’t been able to get one yet, or for whom the vaccine did not prevent infection (rare but possible). Good news!

For more on COVID drugs and vaccines, check out these posts:

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Photo: Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, “File:Kenneth C. Frazier.jpg” by Merck (www. Merck.com) is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0