Americans Are Pill Poppers & Mark Cuban Is Going To Make Them Cheaper

Americans Are Pill Poppers & Mark Cuban Is Going To Make Them Cheaper
Confessions of a benefits broker

Let’s break this down without getting a headache #DreamOn.

The U.S. prescription drug market is worth over $535B. That is big. No really… it’s big. For reference, the most expensive NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys, is valued at $5.7B; yup, the Cowboys are a rounding number!

U.S. brand name drugs are 300% higher than those in 32 other high-income countries per a 2021 RAND study. Being #1 on this list is not cool. The U.S. consumers subsidize the world’s drug expenditures. In contrast drug prices are lower in Canada because of regulations.

Conversely to the perversion, generic drugs, which account for 84% of drugs sold nationally but only 12% of spending, actually cost less in the U.S. than other countries. 

The U.S. is one of only two countries that permits DTC (direct to consumer) advertising of prescription drugs, over $6.5B annually. Why does industry spend such a vast amount? Because it works. The AMA has openly called for a ban on such advertising practice that, according to the association, encourages patients to seek more expensive treatment. The ban is unlikely as advertising is a protected form of commercial free speech.

Hmm… I wonder if clever marketing leads to unnecessary and possibly harmful utilization… (fill in your thoughts here). 

There are many proposed bills and bombastic comments from both political parties about curbing drug prices; however, there is not a peep on the number of over drugged Americans. The Rx lobby spends $233 million per year, more than any other industry.  We have the best politicians money can buy!

For years Americans (about 4 million a year) have been avoiding high prices and buying drugs in Canada, Mexico or other countries by driving across a border, ordering online, or using stores that give them access to foreign pharmacies. Twenty million Americans live with someone who’s done so #someonegetmeatylenol.

Capitalism works and the Canadian International Pharmacy Association is eager to facilitate.  It publishes a list of certified pharmacracies and drug comparison websites, They also maintain a rouge Canadian pharmacy list … Canadian’s Behaving Badly, … Netflix series to air shortly … get your maple flavored popcorn ready.

It is technically illegal, but the FDA often turns a blind eye to personal use. Over a dozen stores in Florida—where a lot of retirees live—help residents buy foreign drugs. If the quantity and purpose is for personal use, it*s rare that federal agents enforce the ban. Not an endorsement: conduct your own due diligence,  vettes online pharmacies.

Congress made importing drugs legal in 2003, but the Department of Health and Human Services never approved any drugs as safe to import. That changed in September 2020 when the Trump administration approved a plan to allow states to buy cheaper drugs from Canada. The Biden administration has yet to weight in on the topic. 

Congress, too, has gotten in on the act by proposing rules that could help keep prices lower. Nothing has passed, but there is interest in cheapening drugs for patients besides those on Medicare or Medicaid (who already benefit from drug-cost control).

More Americans are drugged up than not!  (epiphany moment). No wonder Zombie movies are so popular. More than 131 million people – 66% of all adults in the United States – use prescription drugs. 

1 in 4 Americans say they take four or more prescription drugs

Wholesale drug prices increased by 129% from 2010 to 2016. This obviously has a trickle-down effect to consumers pockets.


Use a coupon services like GoodRx, Blink Health and RxSaver and get your drugs at a discount. Or ask your pharmacist for the lowest cash price possible, yes, its sometimes less expensive without insurance…don’t think too deeply on that. You’ll need more meds. Independent pharmacies have more flexibility than large chain pharmacies.

Work with a patient advocate. A patient advocate is an expert hired to help patients navigate the health care system and insurance providers. An advocate might cost $125 an hour but could help you save big if you successfully appeal your insurers decision to drop your drug.

Ask about a prescription assistance program. While these drug company-run programs may expire, limit your prescription or disappear for another reason, you might qualify for cheaper drugs through one. Explore your options at Needy Meds or RxAssist.

Connect with a charitable pharmacy. There are 50 charitable pharmacies and another 700 charitable clinics with onsite pharmacies around the country. They’re often run by well-established charities. Find one through the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics.


Cost Plus Drug’s Mission: Our goal is that everyone should be able to afford their medicine. Everyone should know what it cost to make their medicine. Everyone should feel the price they paid for their medicine was fair.

The mission has merits, as we’ve explored: all the current stakeholders have no incentive to increase transparency or lower price without outside competitive forces.

Cuban’s company will produce low-cost versions of high-cost generic drugs. In a radical departure from the pharmaceutical companies, it will openly publish the manufacturing and distribution costs. In order to sustain the operation, a 15% mark up will be applied to all drugs. As an example, his company plans to distribute Albendazole, an antiparasitic drug, for $20: its current list price is $225.

The company is preparing for an $11M manufacturing laboratory in Texas. In addition, there are plans for construction of a pharmacy with the hopes to be profitable. Cuban’s company plans to distribute more than 100 generic drugs by end of 2021.

To read the full article, click here.

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