Remember that scene in the Big Short when Dr. Burry (played by Christian Bale) was screaming because the big banks wouldn’t properly value his short position before they too took short positions? Fast forward to today and everyone (journalists, politicians, etc) like to complain about drug prices… but it’s just a talking point.
You see, no one really WANTS to lower drug prices.
The movie the Big Short came out several months after I initially began moving pieces on the chess board to create MailMyPrescriptions.com. But when I was at the theater and the outspoken Mark Balm (played by Steve Carrell) uttered these lines:
The banks have given us 25% interest rates on credit cards. They have screwed us on student loans that we can never get out from under. Then this guy walks into my office and says those same banks got greedy, they lost track of the market, and I can profit off of their stupidity? Fuck yeah, I want him to be right.
I found myself looking around the theater thinking… Are there any other disgruntled millennial’s in here who figured out that generic drug prices are a ripoff? That the entire system was rigged. And did they know what I knew… how to undercut it, that the system would never see it coming, and did they have the idea to flip that solution to Amazon or Google or some other E-com disruptor?
6-months prior to the release date I had bought MailMyPrescriptions.com for $7 on GoDaddy. It’s been 3-years… we ship prescriptions every day… saving people thousands. But you don’t know who we are. Because no one really WANTS to lower drug prices.
Since I founded MailMyPrescriptions.com I have personally reached out by email, by tweet, by snail mail, to countless news outlets if they even mention “drug prices” in an article, which I track via Google alerts. Typically 5-10 a day actually. I have written to well over 100, maybe even 200, media outlets. No response. We have hired PR firms. We have hired in-house media staff. Yet constantly ignored, or at best responded to by asking “where’s the story?”… we have no blockbuster investors. No Corporate drama. No $100-million dollar valuations. We just grind. You see lowering drug prices isn’t sexy. It’s kind of mundane actually.
I think it’s kind of cool though. We’ve got robots, automation, technology, and nifty green packaging. But when I DM’ed Christina Farr, offering to fly her out to our facility to see that it’s real. To show her the books. To show her the secret sauce on how we disrupt drug prices… crickets.
I’ve reached out to the writer of the annual ConsumerReports on drug prices, only to be left off two years in a row… even though we have the lowest prices of any pharmacy in the world (yes… the WORLD), highest customer rating of any online pharmacy, and a viral following on social media… just plug the hashtag “#searchcallsave” into your Facebook search bar.
Here… I’ll do it for you:
Told you we have nifty green boxes…
…and great savings. But, It’s not just news outlets who want to ignore our solution.
Over the last 3-years we’ve attempted to secure contracts with big employer insurance brokers only to find out they are on the take of PBM’s, and often times their employer clients, getting rebates on their drug spend… incentives that keep prices high for their employees and end users. You’re just finding this out, right? You see… no one really WANTS to lower drug prices.
Over the last 3-years, we’ve reached out to all of the big discount card providers… who are also reliant on PBM’s for commissions, and surprise… they have no desire to offer the lowest prices to consumers, probably out of fear of impacting those healthy commissions. Following those guys lately? Some are even suing their ex-PBM partners… fighting over those very commissions. You see… no one really WANTS to lower drug prices.
Sure, retail pharmacies could offer lower drug prices today, if they wanted to. Sure, they’d lose all their insurance contracts most likely, but they complain they don’t make any money anyway, right? You see maybe our supply chain is better, but they too could choose not to mark drugs up egregiously. But really they just want the PBM’s to share a cut of those fat profits. And I’m sure if we become the “Amazon of pharmacy” they will compare us to Walmart of the 90’s by saying we’re putting Mom and pops out of business… but you see… no one really WANTS to lower drug prices.
And unfortunately outside of an Administration violating the economic principals that this democracy was founded on (i.e. the “Free Market”) by controlling prices for a commodity, the governments’ hands are pretty much tied. Sure, they can eliminate some of these obviously conflicted incentive structures… but I fear these players have a plan B, and that is almost certainly just to lower or eliminate discounts off generic list prices… and again… RAISE DRUG PRICES for end-users.
But hey…we have a solution… we don’t egregiously mark them up in the first place! But you see… no one really WANTS to lower drug prices.
It’s not like “no one knows who we are” either. Outside of those hundreds of outreach attempts… I’ve actually spoken with multiple Wall Street research analysts as a Subject Matter Expert. I’ve participated in symposiums and on panels, all closed to the media, of course. I literally predicted Amazon would enter the pharmacy market this year.
And all of that… only to be left off of analyst reports, for example covering Express Scripts. A recent one mentioned the possible impact Amazon’s acquisition of Pill Pack could have on a stock, like say Express Scripts, and goes something along the lines of “if they compete on price” the effect on Express Scripts stock price as a stand-alone PBM could be a price erosion greater than the $17bn single-day market-wide loss in value simply caused by the acquisition of Pill Pack.
That’s only one PBM! WE ARE ALREADY COMPETING ON PRICES! But you see… no one really WANTS to lower drug prices!
Even Carl Icahn is skeptical of the Cigna acquisition of ESI, allegedly out of fear of Amazon competing on price… even though Pill Pack is still technically (currently) reliant on ESI for a 3rd of their business! But still, a valid concern, because you see… We are already doing that!
It turns out, I am at the helm of a disruptive startup, that saves consumers sometimes up to $500 on a single Rx… and no one can do anything to stop us from doing this!
Based on all of the sentiment on Wall Street I guesstimate that our success can plausibly wipe nearly $100 BILLION in market value from the top publicly traded PBM’s, health insurance carriers who own PBM’s, pharmacy chains, and other stakeholders… so you see the truth is…
No one really WANTS to lower drug prices… except for MailMyPrescriptions.com.
And I’m sure you want to know the recipe. So next month I will be publishing a response to this post titled ‘The secret sauce of how MailMyPrescriptions.com is lowering drug prices’. I will take you behind the scenes so that you can see how we are about to inform the nation about our lower drug prices.