Famed investor and Dallas Mavericks partner Mark Cuban is trying his hand at a new business. The mogul stealthily created a generic pharmaceutical operation, surprising many with the announcement of Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company.
The company's first project will be creating a generic drug to treat hookworm called albendazole. The pill is used to cure a one-time widespread parasite that can infect people who have consumed unsanitary water. Outbreaks of hookworm have been documented in areas of extreme poverty in the rural South. These waves are difficult to treat due to the high cost of albendazole, which is cheap to manufacture but costs the consumer about $225 per pill on average.
CEO Alex Oshmyansky hoped to change that. The entrepeneur has a PhD in Mathematics from Oxford University and is a practicing medical doctor. He reached out to Cuban with his nascent company, partially inspired by the national outrage over "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli's medicinal price-gouging.
“The people getting price-gouged are people who are living in extreme poverty,” Oshmyansky told Forbes. “If you get it, and you treat it right away, it's not a big deal. But if it's left to fester, it can cause cognitive defects and neurological problems.” He also added that in his career he's “had patients have serious injuries from the high cost of drugs, which should have been very cheap. I've been angry about it for a long time.”
Cuban was enthusiastic about joining the project, which aimed to build an entirely transparent drug company. Its website promises a full accounting of the wholesale cost of each pill and a clear 15 percent markup for the consumer. Oshmyansky was taken by how well Cuban knew the market.
"From his public persona, I primarily thought of Mark as a sports, media personality. But he is deeply, deeply knowledgeable about the pharmaceutical industry and pharma pricing,” Oshmyansky told Forbes. “He's been directly involved in shaping the strategic direction of the company.”
Though the doctor and mathemetician founded the company, they put Cuban's name out front to draw attention to their efforts. “I think Mark’s name on it catches a lot more attention,” Oshmyansky said.
Both men seem fired up over the idea that Americans can't access vital medicine.
“It's ridiculous what the pricing for generic drugs is. Period end of story,” Cuban told Forbes, before admitting that he has at least one ulterior motive. “I put my name on it because I wanted to show that capitalism can be compassionate and to send the message I am all in.”
“It feels hyperbolic to say, but people are dying because of the pricing of drugs in the U.S.,” Oshmyansky told the Morning News. “These are not complicated medicines.”