Amazon launches Amazon Pharmacy

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Amazon launches Amazon Pharmacy

By Sandra Levy - 11/17/2020

The day the retail pharmacy industry has been bracing for is here. Amazon has launched Amazon Pharmacy, a new store on its website that allows customers to complete an entire pharmacy transaction on their desktop or mobile device.

Using a secure pharmacy profile, customers can add their insurance information, manage prescriptions, and choose payment options before checking out. Prime members receive unlimited, free two-day delivery on orders from Amazon Pharmacy included with their membership.

“We designed Amazon Pharmacy to put customers first — bringing Amazon’s customer obsession to an industry that can be inconvenient and confusing,” said TJ Parker, vice president of Amazon Pharmacy. “We work hard behind the scenes to handle complications seamlessly so anyone who needs a prescription can understand their options, place their order for the lowest available price, and have their medication delivered quickly.”

Additionally, Prime members can access savings on medications at Amazon Pharmacy when paying without insurance, as well as at over 50,000 other participating pharmacies nationwide. Amazon said the Prime savings benefit can save members up to 80% off generic and 40% off brand name medications when paying without insurance. Prime members will have access to their prescription savings at checkout on Amazon Pharmacy.

Amazon Pharmacy will be a discrete offering from Pillpack, which the retailer acquired in 2018. Since then, the industry has been anticipating a move in the pharmacy arena from the online giant, which also has been acquiring wholesale pharmacy licenses in various states since at least October 2017. Amazon Pharmacy currently will only be available in 45 states, with Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana and Minnesota excluded for now. 

“As more and more people look to complete everyday errands from home, pharmacy is an important and needed addition to the Amazon online store,” said Doug Herrington, senior vice president of North American consumer at Amazon. “PillPack has provided exceptional pharmacy service for individuals with chronic health conditions for over six years. Now, we’re expanding our pharmacy offering to Amazon.com, which will help more customers save time, save money, simplify their lives, and feel healthier.”

The company said that the service is only available with a prescription, which providers can send directly to Amazon Pharmacy, or patients can transfer existing prescriptions from their current pharmacy. Prescriptions are delivered in discreet packaging to a patient's home, and Amazon noted that Amazon Pharmacy securely manages customer information in compliance with HIPAA, and does not share protected health information outside of the pharmacy for advertising or marketing purposes without clear permission from the customer. Amazon Pharmacy will not be delivering Schedule II controlled medications, which includes most opioids.

“We understand the importance of access to affordable medication, and we believe Prime members will find tremendous value with the new Amazon Prime prescription savings benefit,” said Jamil Ghani, vice president, Amazon Prime. “Our goal is for Prime to make members’ lives easier and more convenient every day, and we’re excited to extend the incredible savings, seamless shopping experience, and fast, free delivery members know and love with Prime to Amazon Pharmacy.”

Amazon Pharmacy allows patients to compare prices on branded and generic versions of medications and see the price with their insurance co-pay, the price without insurance and the available savings via Prime prescription savings to choose the lowest-priced option. The Amazon Prime prescription savings benefit is administered by Inside Rx, a subsidiary of Evernorth.

Amazon noted that patients who take multiple daily medications and prefer pre-sorted dose packaging should continue to choose PillPack.

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