What Is Amazon Pharmacy – Amazon will offer prescription drugs for home delivery through a new online pharmacy, promising Prime members free two-day shipping and discounts of up to 80% on drugs purchased without insurance.
It’s Amazon’s big foray into the online pharmacy business since the tech giant’s $753 million acquisition of mail-order prescription company PillPack in 2018.
What Is Amazon Pharmacy
Amazon will compete for a larger share of the roughly $300 billion U.S. pharmaceutical market against a host of online drugstores and pharmacy delivery services from major rivals such as CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Target, as well as smaller startups and brick-and-mortar drugstores .
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The ripple effects were immediately clear in the stock market. Shares of CVS and Walgreens fell more than 8% Tuesday morning after the news. RiteAid fell more than 16%. GoodRx, a recently public company that offers prescription price comparisons, saw its stock drop more than 20% as Amazon rolled out a similar feature as part of its rollout.
Amazon Pharmacy, as the digital pharmacy is known, will be available on Amazon.com and the Amazon app. Doctors and other healthcare providers will be able to send prescriptions to Amazon at a patient’s request, just as they would with any other pharmacy.
Prescription discounts are a new perk in the $119/year Prime membership program, along with existing perks like free shipping and Prime Video streaming. In addition to receiving prescription discounts at Amazon Pharmacy, Prime members will also be eligible for prescription discounts at more than 50,000 pharmacies nationwide.
Discounts for Prime members will be up to 80% on generics and 40% on brand names, the company says. In some cases, Prime prescription discounts can make the out-of-pocket cost of a prescription lower than using insurance. Amazon says it also works with most insurance plans.
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No, Amazon says it will not use customers’ personal health information for advertising or marketing purposes outside of the digital pharmacy without their express permission, in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA. Customers will have a secure pharmacy profile where they can store their insurance information and manage their prescriptions and payment options.
Amazon’s moves reflect its growing interest in healthcare. Existing initiatives include its Haven Healthcare joint venture with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway; Halo health tracker; COVID-19 testing for Amazon employees; and Amazon Care virtual and in-person clinics, currently available as a pilot program for employees in the Seattle region.
The company says Amazon Pharmacy will offer a “seamless” and familiar browsing experience for Amazon customers, with features including the ability to compare Prime’s discounted price to the cost of getting a prescription through insurance and copays. However, Amazon says customers should also consider factors like their insurance deductible when deciding which option to choose.
The company says PillPack will remain a “separate service for customers managing multiple daily medications for chronic conditions,” with the ability to receive prescriptions pre-sorted into individual dose packs. Two crossed lines that form an “X”. It shows a way to close an interaction or dismiss a notification.
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Amazon just opened a pharmacy, allowing shoppers to get prescription drugs the way they would get clothes or household supplies.
Amazon Pharmacy, which launched Tuesday, offers delivery of most generic and brand-name prescription drugs to most U.S. customers with no delivery fee. Doctors can send prescription orders directly to Amazon, or pharmacies like CVS can transfer them.
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Amazon Prime members receive special benefits, such as discounts of up to 80% on generic drugs and 40% on brand-name drugs when paying without insurance, as well as two-day shipping. Service not available in Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana or Minnesota.
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I decided to see how the process worked first hand by ordering my prescription drug through Amazon. I’m not a prime member, but the ease of getting my meds during the pandemic has appealed to me.
I quickly signed up for the service, but Amazon said it takes days to transfer prescriptions from other pharmacies. After I asked my prescriber to transfer my medication, the company said the free shipping would take 5 days.
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“Starting right from the Amazon.com store, it’s easy to enter a drug name and see availability and all the savings for Prime members,” said Amazon spokeswoman Jacqueline Miller. “Before leaving, customers with registered insurance can compare their co-pay, uninsured price or available savings with the new Prime Prescription Savings benefit to choose the lowest cost option.”
Here are all the steps I took to get my medication from Amazon Pharmacy. Amazon was not immediately available for comment.
I decided to use Amazon’s new pharmacy to get my meds. I recently moved and spent two months in Michigan this year, which means I had to change pharmacies several times to get my meds. Amazon appealed to me because I wanted the ability to change my shipping address quickly without using a new pharmacy.
First, I checked to see if Amazon would ship the medicine to me. The website lists a number of items the company does not yet ship, including medical devices, controlled substances and vitamins, but it appears to ship most medications.
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I then checked to see if the medicine would be delivered to my apartment in New York. The website says Amazon does not yet ship to Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana or Minnesota.
There are two downsides to Amazon Pharmacy that I noticed right away: The company doesn’t offer 90-day refills, nor does it automatically refill prescriptions.
The company asked me to create a health profile using my name, address, birthday, and the last four digits of my social security number. I already had an address saved in my Amazon account which sped up the process.
I then added my insurance information. I recommend getting your insurance card and pill bottle before you start the process so you don’t have to get up and look for them.
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I had to disclose the name of my medication, any allergies I had, whether I was pregnant or nursing, and other health issues.
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I then had to call for my prescription at Amazon Pharmacy. The company said the fastest way to request a prescription is to call my doctor’s office and inform them of my new pharmacy. Amazon can also request it for you by contacting your current pharmacy.
My dermatologist’s office was not immediately available, so I opted to use Amazon’s service. The company said it could take up to six days to order my medication.
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I didn’t feel like waiting that long, so I decided to wait for my dermatologist to get back to me. The office was busy, but I had a virtual meeting with her and she sent my prescription to Amazon within two days.
During checkout, I added my address and selected my payment information (even though I had a $0 copay with insurance). You can also add an FSA or HSA card as a payment method.
I don’t have Amazon Prime, so the checkout website said I would have to wait nine days to receive my medication to qualify for free shipping. Amazon’s website said non-Prime members were eligible for “free 4-5 day shipping,” but the checkout window told me otherwise. Prime members can get free two-day shipping.
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I was all set and received my prescription without paying a shipping fee. Shortly after I bought the prescription, Amazon sent me a message saying my medicine would arrive in five days. Luckily I have enough pills to last me that long, but I would hesitate to choose this service if I needed my medicine right away.
After completing the process, I am happy that I don’t have to leave my home to get my prescription, but the delivery time is an issue. However, I was disappointed with how slow Amazon Pharmacy was, both in requesting and sending prescriptions. I plan to order my next refill in advance to make sure I get the medicine I need in time. If shipping continues to take this long, I will probably send my prescription back to my local pharmacy. The online behemoth opened an online pharmacy on Tuesday that allows customers to order prescription drugs or refills and have them delivered to their front door