Cost Plus offers life-changing prescription drug prices, but not if you’re in North Carolina :: WRAL.com

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Prescription drugs for pennies on the dollar for what people normally pay. That’s the idea behind a new online pharmacy that has just launched nationwide. However, if you live in North Carolina, you’re out of luck. We are the only state the new company does not ship to.

With an estimated 18 million people in the United States unable to afford prescription drugs, billionaire entrepreneur, “Shark Tank” host and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban helped launch Cost Plus Drug Company.

“It was very easy to get into the program, extremely easy to get into the program,” Asheville resident Mark Holmes says of Cost Plus.

He heard about the newly founded online pharmacy and quickly got online.

“The four medications I’m on were all included,” Holmes said. Even though he has private insurance with co-pay, Holmes couldn’t believe the prices. “I was going to be able to easily save $100 on my medication. It’s every three months, but $100 is $100.”

Holmes asked his doctor to transfer his prescriptions and went to complete his registration at www.costplusdrugs.com. That’s when things went wrong.

“It wouldn’t be enough, and I couldn’t understand why,” Holmes said. He went to the frequently asked questions section to see if he was doing anything wrong. Then he saw it.

“‘Program available in 49 states,’ and I think it’s impossible for North Carolina to be one of those 50 states.”

The company’s website says they hope to ship to North Carolina soon.

In a Tweet just after the launch, Cuban wrote, “Our biggest problem is that North Carolina won’t allow us to operate in the state. Many draconian rules are costing voters dearly.”

Five On Your Side specifically asked the company what was “draconian” about our rules and never got a specific answer.

Five on Your Side then contacted the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy to ask if they could provide a reason for the holdup. Executive Director Jay Campbell said companies need a license from the board to sell in North Carolina and a digital pharmacy credential from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. It’s unclear if the Cost Plus Drug Company has that title, but Campbell told us the company is unlicensed, writing “This company does not hold a North Carolina pharmacy license and does not have one. asked one.”

So how good are some of the deals? Five On Your Side went to the website to compare the prices of some common medications.

Azithromycin sells for $150. Good Rx discounts that to $17. At costplusdrugs.com, the price was only $11.

The cancer drug Imatinib sells for $2,500. The lowest Rx voucher we found was $39. Cost Plus only charges $17.

Finally, Cyclobenzeprine Extended Release Muscle Relaxer sells for over $1,000. It’s $157 through Good Rx, but only $53 at Cuban!

Holmes told us he studied the company’s business model. They buy direct from the manufacturers, mark up 15%, and charge a $3 drugstore labor fee. By eliminating layers of middlemen who charge their own additional fees, the Cuban business can still make a profit.

“That’s 15%, a good margin and let’s move on. I mean, that’s a great business model as far as I’m concerned,” Holmes said. He hopes the new company sends a message to the pharmaceutical industry and asks for this state license.

“That’s what we need with this prescription stuff. Make it fast, make it easy, make it cheap,” he said.

And with help from Cuba to fund the construction of a new pharmaceutical drug production facility just outside of Dallas, it should be able to make the drugs and sell them even cheaper.

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