Amazon is launching Amazon Pharmacy, a new business offering two-day prescription drug delivery for Prime users. The service is designed to make purchasing and refilling prescriptions as simple as any other purchase, and all from within the same app. It’s been built on the back of PillPack, a company Amazon bought in 2018, although Amazon will not pre-sort doses in the way PillPack does.
Amazon has said that Pharmacy will integrate with the majority of US insurance plans and will have trained professionals available for consultation 24/7. It is currently available in 45 states, with Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana and Minnesota not part of the initial rollout.
A lengthy CNBC report says that Amazon is offering a mix of generic and branded drugs, with users able to buy birth control, insulin, steroid creams and metformin. The service seems to be designed to sweep up a lot of the lower-end pharmacy work which is currently undertaken by major retail chains. That does not stretch to more controlled drugs, like medicines classified as opioids under the FDA’s Schedule II.
Amazon has said that Prime users buying medicine over-the-counter will also see steep discounts: Up to 80 percent for generic, and 40 percent for branded goods. They can also get a benefit card that will entitle them to similar discounts at real-world retailers, including CVS and Rite-Aid. But the service isn’t exclusive to Prime members, and those without can buy medicine with a five-day delivery window, or pay an extra $5.99 for expedited shipping.
It’ll be interesting to see how Amazon navigates its relationships both with the wider healthcare industry and also brick-and-mortar pharmacy businesses. But it’s likely that there will be plenty of attention directed toward how the company handles the trove of customer medical data -- which it says will be HIPAA compliant -- given what’s going on at other parts of its business right now.