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From Mavs to medicine: How Mark Cuban is taking on pharmaceuticals

(BUSINESS) The Mav’s owner and entrepreneur, Mark Cuban, has devised a plan to disrupt the pharmaceutical industry with Dallas radiologist, Oshmyansky.

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For Alex Oshmyansky, the disillusionment with pharmaceutical companies is personal. In his line of work as a radiologist, he’d seen patients be told they need extremely expensive medicine, be unable to afford it and apply for financial assistance, just to die while waiting to be approved. It angered him, and so he came up with the idea for a low-cost drug company. He never dreamed he would garner the attention, and funding, of famous billionaire entrepreneur, Mark Cuban.

By now, Mark Cuban’s name is synonymous with startups, but his newest business venture is unlike anything he’s ever done. It all started with an email from a Dallas-based radiologist, Oshmyansky, who sent Cuban a cold pitch email, detailing his idea for an affordable pharmaceutical company, which had already gained some traction, and one million dollars in funding. Together, they devised a plan to disrupt the pharmaceutical industry.

And so, The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company was born. The company aims to buy, package, distribute and manufacture low-cost versions of many low-cost drugs, while offering “radical transparency”. At its core, the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company is a compounding pharmacy, beneficial because, while still FDA approved and subject to certain manufacturing regulations, it is subject to less strict regulations than an average generic drug company.

Cuban and Oshmyansky can offer one hundred generic drugs at cost, plus a 15 % markup and a pharmacist’s fee. For example, a cancer patient could get 400 mg of Imatinib for $47.40 without insurance, as opposed to $9,657 at a traditional pharmacy. It can currently deliver medication to every US state, except North Carolina.

One reason Cuban can offer medications so cheaply is that he buys directly from the manufacturer to pass savings on to the consumer. Soon, however, he will control the means of production. Cuban is breaking ground on an 11 million dollar manufacturing facility. Located in the Dallas neighborhood of Deep Ellum, a 22,000 sq ft building is currently under construction. Oshmyansky feels the supply chain is “so cumbersome and broken” so he and Cuban created a parallel supply chain where they can control every aspect of the production. Another benefit to creating a parallel supply chain is that Cuban and Oshmyansky can also produce small-batch medications considered in short supply by the FDA. These drugs, known as “orphan drugs”, are used to treat rare diseases in smaller populations.

Another cost reduction aspect of The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company is that they aim to cut out pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen between Big Pharma and insurers/big employers. Their primary job is to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to get the lowest prices for prescription drugs.

Cost Plus Mark Cuban Letter

However, PMBs benefit financially from these negotiations and receive rebates, all while being secretive about their contracts with pharmaceutical companies. That is why transparency in pricing is so important to Cuban. However, some experts say that Cuban’s new cost-plus pharmacy is not the solution to high drug prices, because it doesn’t cover all medications like name brands or biologics. Name brands cost 80-85% more than generic medications.

Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Company also doesn’t take health insurance, which is vital for many Americans who pay cash to get the lowest price on their prescriptions. Going outside of health insurance can cause many Americans to not meet their deductible, which could make other health procedures and medications more expensive in the long term, so it’s not the right solution for every consumer. Still, it can make a difference for many Americans.

They also don’t offer any medical supplies many patients are reliant on, such as glucose monitors or oxygen tanks. Many experts also dislike the idea of consumers “shopping around” and choosing to fill their prescriptions at various pharmacies, as they believe it could increase the risk of unintended drug interactions, something PMBs were designed to prevent.

Other companies who have preceded The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company, such as GoodRX (an app that compares prices and offers coupons for prescriptions), have helped lower costs to consumers, but haven’t revolutionized the pharmaceutical industry. With 18 million Americans unable to afford at least one drug, and with 1 and 10 Americans skipping doses to save their medications.

Despite government efforts, Americans spend an average of 1,300 USD every year on pharmaceuticals, which is more than any developed country in the world. Where the government has failed to intervene, private business owners, like Cuban, have stepped up. While, Cuban and Oshmyansky’s goal is simple; to disrupt the drug industry, the industry itself is anything but simple. It’s unclear whether Cuban’s endeavor alone can lower drug prices, but it can hopefully bring about a larger change.

Cuban says he could “make a fortune from this”. “But I won’t”, he continues, “I’ve got enough money. I’d rather f**k up the drug industry in every way possible”.

Medication packs

Nicole is a recent graduate (okay fine, a recent-ish graduate) of Texas State University-San Marcos where she received a BA in Psychology. When she's not doing freelance writing, she's doing freelance Public Relations. When she's not working, she's hanging out with dogs or her friends - in that order. Nicole watches way too much Netflix and is always quoting The Office. She has an obsession with true crime and sloths.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. maureen ahern

    February 25, 2022 at 2:30 pm

    I was aware Mark Cuban was involved in pharmaceuticals but did not know
    how. This was an excellent interesting article

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Business News

Ageism: How to properly combat this discrimination in the workplace

(BUSINESS) Ageism is still being fought by many companies, how can this new issue be resolved before it becomes more of a problem?

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Ageism void

Workers over the age of 55 represent the fasting growing sector in labor. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 25% of the labor force will be over age 55 by 2024. A 2018 AARP survey found that over 60% of the respondents reported age discrimination in their workplace. The figure is even higher among older women, minorities, and unemployed seniors. Age discrimination is a problem for many.

Unfortunately, age discrimination lawsuits aren’t uncommon. We have covered cases for Jewel Food Stores, Inc., Novo Nordisk, Inc., AT&T, and iTutorGroup, all alleging age or disability discrimination in some form or fashion. This could be from using vocabulary such as “tenured,” hiring a younger employee instead of promoting a well-season veteran, or pressuring older employees with extra responsibilities in order to get them to resign or retire early.

How can your organization create an age-inclusive workforce?

It is difficult to prove age discrimination but fighting a lawsuit against it could be expensive. Rather than worrying about getting sued for age discrimination, consider your own business and whether your culture creates a workplace that welcomes older workers.

  1. Check your job descriptions and hiring practices to eliminate graduation dates and birthdates. Focus on worker’s skills, not youthful attributes, such as “fresh graduate” or “digital native.” Feature workers of all ages in your branding and marketing.
  2. Include age diversity training for your managers and employees, especially those that hire or work in recruiting.
  3. Support legislative reforms that protect older workers. Use your experience to create content for your website.

Changing the culture of your workplace to include older workers will benefit you in many ways. Older workers bring experience and ideas to the table that younger employees don’t have. Having mixed-age teams encourages creativity. There are many ways to support older workers and to be inclusive in your workplace.

What steps are you taking in your organization to reduce ageism in your workplace?

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AI-generated content is against Google’s guidelines, so what now?

(BUSINESS) Google’s Search Advocate, John Mueller, says that AI-generated content is against webmaster guidelines. What does mean for content strategy?

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Google homepage on computer representing AI-generated content.

John Mueller, Google’s Search Advocate, stated that AI-generated content is against Google’s webmaster guidelines in a weekly online question and answer session.

Let’s review what that means for you and your content strategy going forward.

First of all, what is AI Generated Content?

Simply put, Medium defines it as

“[a]utomatically generated or Auto-Generated content is content that’s been created with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence tools.”

Tools like writesonic or jasper are examples of AI content creation tools made to create content for a blog, social media, etc. If you check these websites, you will find that Google is listed as one of the many companies that use their services.

So, Google can use it but others will be penalized for using it. Can Google recognize when a user takes advantage of AI-generated content services for use on the web?

In the video Q&A, Mueller doesn’t confirm or deny whether or not Google is capable of recognizing AI-generated content. He is quoted as stating,

“I can’t claim that. But for us, if we see that something is automatically generated, then the webspam team can take action on that.”

After countless searches about the Google webspam team and what actions they can take, it’s not immediately clear, but what seems to be the consensus is that it could negatively impact Google rankings and SEO.

What can you do?

If you are already using AI-generated content, the first thing to consider is do you need to do most of the heavy lifting or are you using it to generate ideas or a starting point? If you’re using it to fully write your next blog post, you need to reconsider this position and be sure to have a human add personal touches to your online content.

According to Mueller, using AI-generated content in ANY capacity is considered unacceptable. He states,

“[c]urrently it’s all against the webmaster guidelines. So, from our point of view, if we were to run across something like that, if the webspam team were to see it, they would see it as spam.”

Your best bet is to keep doing it yourself because right now Google has all the power over search and rankings. At least, until something changes.

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Social media and depression go hand-in-hand, studies show

(BUSINESS) Maybe this won’t come as a surprise, but the statistics sure are telling- having depression and social media usage are linked.

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Upside down photo of man holding iphone case saying "social media seriously harms your mental health" representing dopamine.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania believe they have found evidence of a link between depression and social media use. Many studies have attempted to show that social media use can be detrimental to your mental health, but the parameters of these studies are often limited in scope or were unrealistic situations. The UPenn study collected usage data tracked by the phone rather than relying on self-reporting.

Psychologist Melissa G. Hunt, the author of the published study, says the bottom line is: “Using less social media than you normally would lead to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”

It should be noted that the study participants were college students who were randomly assigned to either use social media as they normally would or be in the experimental group that limited time on the three most popular platforms, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Hunt doesn’t believe that it’s realistic not to use social networks at all, but it is important to find a way to manage your use to avoid negative effects.

Depression is a serious problem for Americans, but is social media responsible?

The CDC reported that between 2013 and 2016, 8.1% of Americans over the age of 20 experienced depression in a 2-week period. About 80% of these people had difficulty with daily activities due to depression. However, “over a 10-year period, from 2007–2008 to 2015–2016, the percentage of adults with depression did not change significantly.” On the other hand, social network use increased exponentially during this time.

There have been other studies that link social media use and depression. It might be that the more platforms accessed increase the risk for depression. Another study found that it was the way people used social media that increased depression. Using it to compare yourself to others or feeling addicted to social media increased the feelings of depression.

But it’s unknown whether depression or social media use came first. Studies haven’t quite agreed on whether it exacerbates existing problems, or creates them.

How should we approach social media use?

Another report suggests that Facebook knew from the start that they were creating addictions. The people closest to tech believe that there are inherent risks for their children to be on social media. Scary? It should make you think about how and why you use tech.

If you find yourself having negative feelings after using social networks, consider limiting the amount of time you spend on those platforms. Get out and connect with others. Relationships can often reduce the risk of depression. Get involved in your community. It’s important to find balance in using social media and having connections with others. Spend time on what makes you feel better about your life.

There are still a lot of questions about how social networks and technologies affect society. In the meantime, pay attention to how you use these sites and be conscious of not getting sucked into the comparison trap.

If you are depressed and lonely, there is help available, and we ask you to make that difficult step and reach out – call the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline at 800-950-6264 or text NAMI to 741741. You can also visit their website to find your local NAMI.

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