Laptop screen on Cost Plus Drug Co website caption 'Contact your doctor Talk to your doctor about Cost Plus Drug Co.'(l) woman speaking (c) laptop screen on Cost Plus Drug Co website medicine prices on left slashed out middle column with much cheaper prices right column displays amount saved on each (r)

@lookawaypls0/TikTok @lookawaypls0/TikTok

‘It sounds way too good to be true’: Uninsured TikToker saved over $200 on medication using Mark Cuban’s pharmacy, sparking debate on big pharma

‘We’re conditioned that those skyhigh prices were the norm.’

 

Victoria Gagliardo-Silver

IRL

Medical care in America can be expensive, especially for those without health insurance. With 23% of people owing thousands of dollars in medical debt and over 31 million Americans being uninsured,  a monetary barrier to medication access exists, leaving people without the drugs they need.

This phenomenon is well exemplified by the American insulin crisis. Insulin, a life-sustaining hormone for people with diabetes, can range between $175 to $300 for a single vial, with prices increasing up to 15% annually. Insulin-dependent diabetics can not survive without it: a lack of the hormone will cause diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition where blood becomes abnormally acidic that can lead to organ failure, and eventually death. But with insulin prices being exorbitant, many diabetics turn to insulin rationing: intentionally taking a lower dose than prescribed in an attempt to save money. According to Rightcare Alliance, four people died in 2017 while rationing their insulin. Over the next two years, nine deaths followed. 

While many people, both citizens and celebrities, have criticized the rising cost of healthcare in America, few have taken such notable action as Mark Cuban. The American billionaire and media personality launched Cost Plus Drugs, an online pharmacy designed to expand access to pharmaceuticals at lower prices, in January 2022.

While looking at the website’s prices, people may feel it’s too good to be true: at least, TikTok user @lookawaypls0 thought so.

@lookawaypls0 Costplusdrugs – @Mark Cuban let’s see how it goes! #medications #birthcontrol #insurance #MadewithKAContest ♬ original sound – lookawaypls0

In a viral video posted on June 8, the TikToker shared, “I’m gonna be trying out Mark Cuban’s pharmacy cause I don’t have insurance anymore and I still need to order my birth control.”

She continues, pointing out the medication she takes and comparing the prices at other pharmacies as opposed to Cost Plus: “Normally it’s $220 without insurance. His pharmacy is only charging $9. It sounds way too good to be true, which means it usually is, but I’m gonna give it a shot so wish me luck.”

In a follow-up video, the creator shared that she was able to order a 3-month supply of birth control for $35 total, paying $5 for shipping, though she has yet to receive the medication.

The initial video has been viewed 4.4 million times and has sparked debate on the ethics of medication pricing. Commenters were both delighted at the inexpensive prices and disappointed at the state of healthcare in America.

One commenter said, “It’s too bad affordable medicine is considered too good to be true. We gotta do better as a country.”

Another said, “We’re conditioned that those skyhigh prices were the normal. Other countries don’t charge this much for their meds.”

The Daily Dot reached out to @lookawaypls0 via TikTok comment and Cost Plus Drugs via press email for comment on this story.


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