Amazon Pharmacy: A Threat for Brick-and-Mortar Drugstores?

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November 17th was the launch of Amazon’s new service, Amazon Pharmacy. This serviced made it possible for customers to order their prescription medication online using desktop or mobile via the Amazon app.

As an alternative to filling out their prescription face-to-face at a pharmacy or drug store, customers can receive their medication in the comfort of their homes.

Amazon honors most insurance plans and also offers discounts on medicines for some customers without insurance.

Also, they get a self-service help section and the option of speaking with a pharmacist available 24/7.

Currently, Amazon Pharmacy is available in 45 states, not including Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Minnesota.

Amazon Pharmacy and Prime

Amazon Pharmacy and Prime

Members of Amazon Prime can experience more perks and benefits compared with regular shoppers. This includes free two-day shipping compared to the free five-day shipping of non-Prime members.

Prime members can avail the prescription savings benefit, offering discounts of up to 80% off generic medication and 40% off branded meds when paying without insurance.

These deals are available online and in over 50,000 participating pharmacies all over the United States. Prime members can access their prescription savings at checkout on Amazon Pharmacy. For more information, visit Amazon Pharmacy website.

“We understand the importance of access to affordable medication, and we believe Prime members will find tremendous value with the new Amazon Prime prescription savings benefit,” said Jamil Ghani, Vice President, Amazon Prime.

“Our goal is for Prime to make members’ lives easier and more convenient every day, and we’re excited to extend the incredible savings, seamless shopping experience, and fast, free delivery members know and love with Prime to Amazon Pharmacy.”

The Amazon Prime prescription savings benefit paired with Amazon Pharmacy provide one place for customers to easily check and compare prices and buy medications to be delivered straight to their doorstep.

Amazon Pushes Further into Healthcare | Pill Pack

Amazon has ventured into healthcare before with their acquiring of PillPack in 2018. Pillpack is a delivery startup that ships medications on a 30-day schedule. This pharmacy offers a full range of services such as sorting and packaging medication for customers.

They require only a list of the medications, doctor information, applicable insurance details, and a method of payment.

PillPack’s infrastructure helped build Amazon Pharmacy, which includes its pharmacy software, fulfillment centers, and relationships with healthcare providers. PillPack is still operating as a separate service for customers who have chronic health conditions.

TJ Parker, PillPack’s co-founder, and now Vice President of Amazon Pharmacy said:

“We designed Amazon Pharmacy to put customers first – bringing Amazon’s customer obsession to an industry that can be inconvenient and confusing.

We work hard behind the scenes to handle complications seamlessly so anyone who needs a prescription can understand their options, place their order for the lowest available price, and have their medication delivered quickly.”

Amazon Pharmacy Threatens Physical Stores

Brick-and-mortar pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, were not ready to compete with solid online stores like Amazon.

Which is why they’re now offering prescription delivery services.

Valued at over $300 billion in the United States, the pharmaceutical industry is extremely competitive.

In light of the current situation, shoppers are trying to avoid big crowds. Therefore, Amazon Pharmacy came at the right time.

This method of purchasing and receiving prescription medication through mail may be “the new normal” throughout the pandemic and even moving forward.

Doug Herrington, Senior Vice President of North American Consumer at Amazon stated the following:

“As more and more people look to complete everyday errands from home, pharmacy is an important and needed addition to the Amazon online store… which will help more customers save time, save money, simplify their lives, and feel healthier.”

How Amazon Pharmacy Works

How Amazon pharmacy works

The pharmacy service is available to customers who are over 18 years of age.

Most forms of insurance are accepted by Amazon and have money-saving offers for people without insurance.

Flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts are suitable ofr customers to purchase their prescriptions on the service.

When customers order medication for the first time, the site might first ask them questions like:

  • Whether they’re pregnant
  • What’s their date of birth, and
  • Their gender assigned at birth

The law requires that information for companies to provide pharmacy care, and pharmacists can also confirm prescriptions this way.

Patients can request their doctors to send their prescriptions directly to Amazon Pharmacy, or they can ask to be transferred from an existing retailer.

Amazon claims to have tools to verify if each prescription ordered is legitimately from the physician.

This can clamp down on any possible fraud.

Deliveries of prescriptions can be tracked by customers the same as with any other order from Amazon.

What’s in Store

The offered medicines include a variety of generic and branded drugs. Customers can purchase birth control and commonly prescribed drugs like insulin, triamcinolone steroid creams, metformin, and sumatriptan. Amazon Pharmacy will not deliver Schedule II controlled medications, however, which includes most opioids They also will not be selling vitamins and supplements, and thus, will not be a replacement for the Health & Personal Care store.

Amazon will also check for possible problematic drug interactions for those who are taking several medications at the same time.

According to Parker, the storing and collecting of customer health information conforms with federal HIPAA rules, and unless given permission, the company will not disclose pharmacy data with advertisers or marketers.

Final Thoughts

Amazon Pharmacy launched at the best time possible since people are social distancing.

The immune compromised most especially can greatly benefit from ordering prescription medications online rather than in-store. Amazon Pharmacy also provides the option to speak with a pharmacist 24/7 for customers who have questions about their prescriptions.

The pharmaceutical industry is very competitive, but Amazon Pharmacy offers an e-commerce approach plus discounts for Prime members that helps people fill their prescriptions more easily. This initiative could be the beginning of a new trend in the fulfillment of medication.

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