Health TIME100: Alex Oshmyansky | TIME

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sSometimes all it takes is a cold email to start a revolution. Alex Oshmyansky, a radiologist who was outraged by exorbitant prescription drug prices, decided to email billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who famously makes his contact information public. He included a business plan for a small company he created in 2018 that manufactured medicines and sold them at cost. Intrigued, Cuban responded within five minutes and was quickly drawn into Oshmyansky’s passion and outrage about how consumers were being “misled.” Cuban provided an initial investment and his name, and Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Co. launched in 2022. The name is as transparent as the company’s mission — which involves selling more than 2,500 generic drugs at cost, plus 15% to cover shipping and management costs. How does Cost Plus Drug Co. sell a popular statin for $5 a month when it costs about $200 a month everywhere else? Simply go directly to drug manufacturers and bypass the opaque system of middlemen who buy from manufacturers at inflated negotiated prices and resell them to hospitals and pharmacies at exorbitant markups in order to make a profit.

Senators are asking the same question and last November asked the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate price-fixing practices by specialty pharmacies for generic drugs. “I like to think we played some role in promoting the narrative that everyone benefits from transparency,” says Oshmyansky, founder and CEO of Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Co.

Buoyed by the millions who now rely on Cost Plus to fill their prescriptions, the company in March began manufacturing its own generic drugs at a facility in Dallas. Their initial outrage is now gaining institutional momentum as drug manufacturers become increasingly frustrated with taking all the blame for runaway drug prices. “If there is an opaque market, then the winners are not the buyers or the sellers, but the people who broker the intermediary information, and that is what we see happening often with drug prices,” he says. “There is a tipping point in the amount of frustration in the industry, both on the part of buyers [patients] and sellers [drugmakers]. And we hope to see more pharmaceutical companies stand up and tell intermediaries that you need us more than we need you – which ultimately benefits patients.”

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