Amazon Pharmacy is here to make getting prescription medications as easy as clicking a button.
Amazon launched its own online pharmacy business that gives shoppers the ability to buy their medication and order refills and have it delivered to their doorsteps. Starting today, Amazon will offer commonly prescribed medications, including creams, pills and medications that need to stay cold, like insulin. Shoppers must have an Amazon profile and a prescription from a doctor.
Most insurance will be accepted, though Amazon Prime members without insurance can get discounts. Prime members also receive free delivery.
Amazon has been moving into the $300 billion pharmacy market over the last few years. In 2017, they bought the online pharmacy PillPack; its infrastructure (pharmacy software, fulfillment centers and relationships with health plans) helped build the new offering.
Amazon Pharmacy is likely to shake up the business and threaten traditional pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, just like the e-commerce giant has done with books sellers, grocers and other retailers.
And with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing for months, Americans may avoid going to brick-and-mortar stores and seek their medicines via mail.
“We wanted to make it easy for people to get their medication, understand the cost and get it delivered to the home,” said TJ Parker, Amazon’s vice president of pharmacy, who previously co-founded PillPack.
How Amazon Pharmacy works
Starting this week, Amazon Pharmacy will operate in 45 states (excluding Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana and Minnesota). The company expects to expand to those states down the road.
Customers must be over the age of 18 and have a prescription from a doctor. Doctors can send prescriptions directly to Amazon Pharmacy, or patients can request a transfer from an existing retailer, like CVS or Walgreens. Amazon has tools to verify prescriptions and prevent potential fraud.
Before ordering medication for the first time, customers will be asked questions required by law, such as their date of birth, gender as it was assigned at birth, and whether they are pregnant.
Amazon also said that customer health data is stored in compliance with federal HIPAA rules.
Most insurance will be accepted and shoppers can also use flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts for their purchases.
The medications on offer include a mix of common generic and brand-name drugs, such as birth control, insulin, triamcinolone steroid creams, metformin for controlling blood sugar and sumatriptan for migraines. Amazon Pharmacy will not deliver Schedule II controlled medications, including most opioids.
Amazon Prime members get free delivery, as well as discounts of up to 80% on generic medications and up to 40% on brand-name prescriptions. They can also get a prescription savings benefit card to use at up to 50,000 pharmacies, including CVS, Walmart, Rite Aid and Walgreens.
Shoppers with questions about their medications can talk to a pharmacist at any time online or by phone.