Prescription Meds Delivered To Your Door? Amazon Launches Pharmacy Platform In Threat To CVS, Walgreens

Prescription Meds Delivered To Your Door? Amazon Launches Pharmacy Platform In Threat To CVS, Walgreens

prescription Amazon meds

Pills image: neur0nz, https://www.flickr.com/photos/26553756@N06/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ Amazon truck: Marco Verch, https://www.flickr.com/photos/160866001@N07/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Amazon, already a dominant force in e-commerce, threatens the dominance of prescription drug giants with the introduction of a $5 monthly pharmacy subscription benefit that will let for U.S. Prime members get as many drugs as they need from a list without needing insurance.

The subscription, called RxPass, will cover some generic drugs and doorstep delivery, Amazon announced on Jan. 24, hoping to boost subscriptions and attract users to its pharmacy service.

The company announced earlier in January that it plans to lay off 18,000 workers, mainly in human resources and stores divisions.

RxPass includes more than 50 medications for 80-plus chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety, diabetes and male pattern baldness, Amazon Pharmacy Chief Medical Officer Vin Gupta said in a press release.

“With RxPass from Amazon Pharmacy, Prime members never pay more than $5 a month in total to have all of their eligible medications delivered to their door for free. All medications require a valid prescription. The flat fee is an add-on to Prime membership,” Amazon said in a press release.

Amazon launched its own online pharmacy in 2020 after acquiring PillPack in 2018. Amazon also offers a Prime prescription savings benefit with discounts of up to 80 percent on generic meds and up to 40 percent on brand-name prescriptions.

The e-commerce delivery giant competes with CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, but hasn’t said how its online pharmacy offering has fared since its launch, CNBC reported. A survey of Prime members showed that they did not rank Amazon’s pharmacy as a top perk, according to an August report from Morgan Stanley.

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Gupta explained the need for the subscription service. “I have seen patients with chronic diseases struggle to get access to the basic medications they need to live their lives well. Navigating insurance can be a maze and getting to the pharmacy a burden … Aspects of our health care system make what should be easy, difficult. It’s why I feel so fortunate to be a part of the change that Amazon Pharmacy is helping to bring to this space.”

However, RxPass doesn’t offer insulin or specialty medications and not everyone is invited to subscribe. Customers enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid or any other government healthcare program will not be able to enroll in Amazon Pharmacy’s RxPass service.

“Patients do not use health insurance with RxPass, so they don’t need to worry about deductibles or copays—it’s a flat $5 monthly add-on to Prime membership,” Gupta said. 

The $5 monthly flat fee is added to monthly Amazon Prime memberships, which costs $139 per year in the U.S. For other medication needs, Amazon Pharmacy accepts most insurance plans.

The average Prime member would save about $100 per year with RxPass, said John Love, vice president of Amazon Pharmacy, in an interview. Amazon Prime members in most U.S. states can sign up for the program starting Tuesday, Reuters reported.

More than 150 million Americans take one or more of the medications available through the RxPass monthly subscription, Gupta said.