Mark Cuban's drug company targets self-insured employer market

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that EmsanaRx Plus is available to any self-insured employer and not exclusively for PBGH members.

Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company will offer prescription drug discounts to self-insured employers via a new platform called EmsanaRx Plus.

The product will be offered to any self-insured employer, no matter the size. This is not an offer exclusively for PBGH members.

Cuban's drug company is partnering with pharmacy benefits manager EmsanaRx to expand access to lower-cost medicines to employers and employees. For Cost Plus Drugs, the partnership marks a strategic shift from operating exclusively in the direct-to-consumer market into the employer market.

EmsanaRx Plus is a supplemental drug discount product designed specifically for employers as a standalone pipeline for lower-cost medicines that have been contracted directly with drug manufacturers by Cost Plus Drugs, according to the company. 

Cost Plus Drugs is a public-benefit corporation and online pharmacy that provides medications at a lower cost by working directly with distributors and manufacturers.

National employer group the Purchaser Business Group on Health (PBGH) launched the PBM for self-funded employers in October 2021. As PBGH is a coalition of 40 large employers, the company says its EmsanaRx PBM solution is "built by employers, for employers."

This new partnership is a response to a growing desire among employers and other healthcare purchasers to work with new market entrants focused on reducing wasteful spending and increasing transparency while maintaining access to high-quality care, according to company executives.

"Like Cost Plus Drugs, EmsanaRx is working to disrupt the current pharmacy supply chain to eliminate the unnecessary markup and profiteering that is burdening businesses and consumers with high drug costs,” said Mark Cuban in a statement.

EmsanaRx integrates with employer-sponsored drug benefits, and, through this partnership, employees can use their health plan benefits while accessing their medication through the EmsanaRx Plus platform.

Currently, when employee members use prescription drug discount card options, employers lose access to critical information and employees spend money on medications that don’t apply to their health plan deductible or maximum out-of-pocket costs, according to executives.

The new platform, EmsanaRx Plus, will provide "deep discounts" on medications without employees having to go outside of their health plan benefits to realize those savings, ensuring greater continuity of care, Cost Plus Drugs executives said.

“Employers are increasingly recognizing that they’re being held hostage by a consolidated industry playing games that cost them more every year without adding value,” said Greg Baker, CEO of EmsanaRx, in a statement. “In partnering with Cost Plus Drugs, we will help employers understand where high-cost drugs are a problem in their current benefit design and give them and their employees access to lower-cost alternatives.”

Cuban launched Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs in January 2021 to offer low-cost rivals to overpriced generic drugs. The company rolled out its online pharmacy earlier this year, aiming to disrupt skyrocketing prescription drug prices in the U.S. It currently offers approximately 350 unique generic prescription drugs that it says reflect manufacturer prices plus a 15% fee. Many are offered in various doses.

The company recently nabbed its first health plan partner, Capital Blue Cross, which allows Capital members and community organizers to access lower-cost drugs via Cost Plus Drugs' platform.