Amazon recently made a play to disrupt the U.S. healthcare industry by launching Amazon Pharmacy. The corporation will deliver prescriptions to users in five days for free or in two days for $5.99. The firm has made its expedited delivery available to its Prime members at no additional cost.
Amazon’s latest industry expansion also gives over 120 million Americans access to sizable prescription drug discounts.
Details on Amazon Pharmacy
Amazon Pharmacy, like the rest of the firm’s online services, is incredibly user-friendly.
Customers, age 18 and over, only need to visit a webpage and enter some personal information to use the new platform. At present, users living in 45 U.S. states can access the program. Residents of Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Minnesota cannot currently join the initiative, but the corporation is reportedly working to extend its availability.
The company can accept prescriptions directly from a user’s primary care provider or receive it from their old pharmacy. Amazon Pharmacy also takes most forms of insurance and flexible spending/health savings account payments, but it does not exclude the uninsured.
The corporation laid the groundwork for its platform when it acquired online pharmacy PillPack in 2019 for $753 million. Though the subsidiary will remain operational, Amazon will use its software, procurement centers, and industry connections.
Thanks to that pre-existing backend support, the service can screen multiple prescription orders for harmful drug interactions. It will also log and store users’ medical information in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In addition, the company will not share its new health data without its owner’s consent.
Amazon Pharmacy can ship common medications like insulin, metformin, and asthma inhalers as easily as its smart speakers. However, the firm noted it would not distribute Schedule II controlled medications, so it cannot fill most opioid prescriptions.
Surprisingly Consumer-Friendly Disruption
Amazon’s presence in many sectors of industry and continual expansion is not universally viewed as a positive. However, its new pharmacy offering might be regarded differently because of how it positively impacts the public.
In a press release, the corporation introduced its new service with a program called Amazon Prime prescription savings benefit. It enables the firm’s subscription members to save up to 40 percent on select brand name drugs and 80 percent on generic medications without insurance. Even better, the online retailer’s discount program is not limited to its platform.
Prime subscribers can present their Rx savings card at 50,000 participating pharmacies in the U.S. to partake in the program. That way, qualified consumers can get faster access to critical medication in less than two days if needed.
Amazon established the new Prime reward during negotiations with Evernorth, a pharmaceutical benefits manager (PBM) owned by medical insurance giant Cigna. PBMs exist to administer pharmacy reimbursements, out-of-pocket costs, and drug formularies with providers. The e-commerce company apparently used its staggering size and influence to negotiate favorable terms with Evernorth.
Another positive aspect of Pharmacy is its digitalized personal health support features. When consumers log onto the firm’s web portal, they can access self-service help tools. Individuals can also get medication advice from pharmacists over the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Like any large corporation, Amazon has its fans and critics. However, the company’s decision to provide an estimated 126 million U.S. Prime subscribers with new rapid medication delivery and prescription discount seems like an unabashedly good thing.