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Martin Shkreli slams Mark Cuban's pharmacy over price transparency

Infamous ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli slammed billionaire Mark Cuban’s new online pharmacy for making what he says are ‘largely false’ claims about its cost savings.

Shkreli – once dubbed the ‘most hated man in America’ for jacking up the price of a life-saving drug 5,000 percent – launched his on Monday with a snarky post criticizing Cuban’s company, Cost Plus Drugs.

He accused the billionaire’s internet pharmacy of not being transparent about medication and shipping costs to make it appear as if savings were greater.

The convicted fraudster also deemed Cost Plus Drugs a doomed venture that ‘will not be profitable’ and questioned if Cuban will ‘keep it alive for his ego’s sake.’

DailyMail.com has sought comment from Cuban. 

Shkreli, who once led Vyera Pharmaceuticals, became infamous in 2015 for jacking up the price of life-saving AIDS drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750. 

He was convicted of two counts of securities fraud and a single count of conspiracy in 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison in 2018. Shkreli was released early in May and transported to a halfway house where he will be held until August.

Infamous ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli (left) slammed billionaire Mark Cuban’s new online pharmacy for making ‘largely false’ claims about its cost savings. The convicted fraudster also deemed Cost Plus Drugs a doomed venture that ‘will not be profitable’ and questioned if Cuban (right) will ‘keep it alive for his ego’s sake’

In his post Monday, the so-called Pharma Bro claimed Cost Plus Drugs was inflating the amount of money customers would save on their medications by utilizing its online pharmacy.

He alleged that Imatinib, a drug used to treat cancer patients, is available to consumers in a 30-day supply for ‘as little as $130.’  

Cost Plus Drugs is selling the product for $39, not including shipping, according to screenshots from the pharmacy’s website that Shkreli shared on his blog. 

The company’s website also allegedly states the retail price for the medication is $9,657.30, a reported savings of 99 percent.

Shkreli claims he compared the cost of the drug to going rates on other discount internet pharmacies, such as DiRx, GeniusRx and GoodRx, and found it available for around $130. He alleges Cost Plus Drugs customers are actually only saving around 60 percent on Imatinib.

‘For a company promising transparency, I would include the average competitors price,’ he wrote. ‘This pharmacy is listing the old price of Imatinib from the brand company, which no one takes anymore.

‘Cuban’s pharmacy should display an apples-to-apples cost savings. So should GoodRx. Transparency, right?’

Cost Plus Drugs is selling Imatinib, a drug used to treat cancer patients, for $39 – not including shipping, according to screenshots from the pharmacy’s website that Shkreli shared

Shkreli claims he compared the cost of the drug to going rates on other discount internet pharmacies, such as DiRx, GeniusRx and GoodRx, and found it available for around $130

Shkreli also alleged Cost Plus Drugs failed to save customers any money whatsoever on albendazole, which is used to treat an infection caused by tapeworms.

He claims Cuban’s pharmacy sells two albendazole pills for $33 plus tax and shipping costs. 

Comparatively, customers can purchase two pills of the medication for $50 at ‘multiple pharmacies,’ Shkreli wrote. 

He also claims Cost Plus Drugs disclosed the retail price of the medication was $437.60, promoting a cost savings of 90 percent. 

‘No savings at all when figuring in shipping,’ he said, newconverse before adding that patients being treated with albendazole need to ‘take this medicine ASAP’ so it would ‘be cheaper to just go to the pharmacy’ in-person.

Shkreli also alleged Cost Plus Drugs failed to save customers any money whatsoever on albendazole, which is used to treat an infection caused by tapeworms

Shkreli then went on the allege purchasing ‘average joe’ medications from Cuban’s company costs consumers the same or more than going to a traditional retail pharmacy. 

‘MC Pharmacy’s Lipitor at $3.60 for 30 10mg is the same price as some retail pharmacies when including shipping costs,’ he argued. ‘Wegman’s and Price Chopper are actually cheaper, while CVS and Walgreen’s are a bit more ($10) expensive.’

He added that Amlodipine, a calcium channel blocker, has a ‘roughly similar price profile’ and there are a ‘handful of other online/mail order pharmacies’ that have ‘extremely similar’ prices to Cost Plus Drugs.

He then alleged that purchasing anti-diabetic medication metformin from Cuban’s pharmacy is more expensive, at $8.90, than getting it from Walmart for $3 and Walgreens and CVS for $8.

‘In general, retail pharmacy is a difficult business. Having to staff pharmacists interacting with physicians is expensive, renting high traffic locations and other expenses result in a plodding low-margin space,’ Shkreli wrote. 

‘Online pharmacies don’t have the footprint costs but replace them with digital infrastructure and shipping costs. Expedited shipping on Cuban’s website is $15, which would further eat into cost savings of the few competitive situations I found, and simply make it more expensive than taking a trip to the pharmacy in most cases.’

DailyMail.com verified the costs of Imatinib, albendazole, Lipitor, Amlodipine and metformin on Cost Plus Drugs. 

With the exception of metformin – which he reported costs over $8 although it’s listed on Cost Plus Drugs between $3.90 and $5.70 per order – Shkreli’s reported costs were accurate.

We were unable to confirm his reported prices at GoodRX as drug costs on the app vary based on pharmacy location. 

Shkreli then went on the allege purchasing ‘average joe’ medications from Cuban’s company costs consumers the same or more than going to a traditional retail pharmacy

Shkreli, despite having claimed he had ‘no interest in engaging in a personal attack on anyone’ with his post, then seemingly criticized Cuban’s character.

He argued the business model under which Cost Plus Drugs operates ‘sucks’ and ‘is not new’ or ‘special.’

‘Paying cash for generics has been possible through several competitors of Cuban’s for some time now,’ he penned. 

‘I don’t see any special sauce or any special prices relative to those players, for the small segment of patients who are uninsured and don’t qualify for Medicaid.’

He added: ‘It is not hard to get publicity when you’re Cuban. Publicity is easier than creating a lasting business, however.  

‘I think after a year or two of operating reality, this pharmacy will not be profitable. Whether Cuban will keep it alive for his ego’s sake is up to him, but I see no real profit potential for him in the cutthroat world of pharmacy.’

Shkreli (pictured in 2015), who once led Vyera Pharmaceuticals, became infamous for jacking up the price of life-saving AIDS drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750. He was convicted of two counts of securities fraud and a single count of conspiracy in 2017

Cost Plus Drugs launched in January with the goal of ‘making medication affordable for all.’ Mark Cuban is pictured in a pharmacy promo

Despite Shkreli’s analysis, Cost Plus Drugs has received praise from industry experts and American consumers alike.

The company launched in January with the goal of ‘making medication affordable for all,’ according to a . The company also plans to build a pharmaceutical factory in Dallas, Texas, which is expected to reach completion by the end of 2022.

Cost Plus Drugs claims it is able provide customers with significant savings because the company is a registered pharmaceutical wholesaler, allowing it to bypass ‘outrageous markups’ on drugs.

Instead, the online pharmacy’s prices reflect actual manufacturer prices plus a flat 15 percent margin and pharmacist fee, Costs Plus Drugs reported.

According to a recent report, researchers predict Cost Plus Drugs could save Medicare ‘$3.6 billion on 77 of 89 generic drugs’ each year if the program utilized Cuban’s offerings. 

Cuban, who has been vocal about the venture on Twitter, revealed on June 18 that Cost Plus Drugs does not  spend ‘a nickel’ on advertising and is ‘completely relying on word of mouth’ promotions.

‘This allows us to price at such low prices. So all help is welcome from everyone and anyone!’ he wrote. 

The low-cost marketing plan seems to be working, as several prominent figures, from physicians to reality TV star Kim Kardashian, have already applauded Cost Plus Drugs online. 

‘This is probably the most amazing thing ever!!!’ Kardashian tweeted last week. ‘Congrats @mcuban. This is saving so many people’s lives.’  

Despite Shkreli’s analysis, Cost Plus Drugs has received praise from industry experts and American consumers alike

‘I don’t know how long @mcuban’s @costplusdrugs will be able to do what it’s doing, but my goodness is it changing lives,’ Backstage Capital founder Arlan Hamilton said. ‘I don’t want you to miss out. Visit costplusdrugs.com to see if your medication’s listed. It’s deeply discounted, if so.’

Daniel Braunstein, who seemingly works in the medical field, tweeted at Cuban on Monday to thank the company for helping their patients. 

‘Thanks for decreasing the prices for patients medications,’ he wrote. ‘All patients that come into the office complaining about the price of their medications, I send them to your Cost Plus Drugs company.’

Cuban has also retweeted several personal testimonies from Cost Plus Drugs clients detailing how ordering through his pharmacy has lowered their monthly medication expenses. 

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