Amazon.com Inc. expands reach to include drugs through Amazon Pharmacy

On November 17, 2020, Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN, Nasdaq) announced a new business, Amazon Pharmacy. Amazon will establish a new store on Amazon.com entitled Amazon Pharmacy. On Amazon Pharmacy, customers will be able to purchase prescription drugs through their desktop computer or, via the Amazon App, their smartphones. Customers’ insurance and prescription information and payment information will be stored in a secure pharmacy profile. Members of Amazon Prime will be entitled to free two-day delivery on orders from Amazon Pharmacy. Delivery will be effected in discreet packaging.

It is expected that Amazon Pharmacy will accept most forms of medical insurance, and also allow customers to purchase prescriptions using flexible spending or health savings accounts where in use. Amazon has announced that customers will receive discounted prices at Amazon Pharmacy when paying for prescription medication without insurance. Amazon anticipates that purchasing prescriptions from Amazon Pharmacy through its prescription savings benefit will save customers as much as 80% compared to generic drug prices and up to 40% compared to brand name medications purchased without insurance. 

To purchase prescriptions from Amazon Pharmacy will require a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare provider. Available prescriptions are expected to include commonly prescribed medications such as creams and pills and even medications requiring refrigeration, such as insulin. Notably, Amazon Pharmacy will not deliver drugs listed on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Schedule II of drugs with “high potential for abuse.”

In June 2018, Amazon announced the acquisition of PillPak for what was later revealed to be approximately $753 million. Pillpack organizes and packages medications taken by patients with multiple prescriptions according to date and time. PillPack will form part of the new Amazon Pharmacy but remain a “distinct service” for customers who receive and require multiple daily prescriptions.

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