Amazon Launches Online Pharmacy
Editor’s Note: People who take insulin require consistently affordable and predictable sources of insulin at all times. If you or a loved one are struggling to afford or access insulin, click here.
On Tuesday, November 17, Amazon.com opened its own online pharmacy as part of a growing list of online departments. This service will allow customers to order medication and prescription refills and in true Amazon fashion, will offer Prime members a free 2-day delivery window and non-Prime members a free 4 to 5-day delivery.
In order to use Amazon’s pharmacy service, shoppers must set up a profile on Amazon’s website and request their doctors send prescriptions there, rather than the traditional pharmacy setting. You can also request a prescription be filled on the Amazon website under a specific medication’s page. They offer a database of doctors that allows you to look up your prescriber and request your prescription be filled through Amazon.
Amazon has said that most insurance is accepted, but Prime members who are un-insured or do not have coverage for a specific medication can also buy generic or brand name medications for a discount. Amazon explains their discount program as the following:
“The Prime prescription savings benefit is not insurance. It is included with your Prime membership at no additional cost. This benefit provides savings on the price you pay for prescription medications if you do not have or are not using insurance. You can receive a discount of up to 80% on generic and 40% on brand name prescription medications.”
The company has said it aims to offer all common medications including medications that need to be refrigerated, like insulin. Although a prescription is required, insurance is not needed to buy insulin, which is available within their initial release. Prices, with and without insurance, as well as any Prime savings, can be compared at checkout.
Important to note is that while Amazon is stating that many insulins are covered under their Prime benefit savings, prices for different types of insulin are widely varied and, even for those showing some savings, costs are far higher than one can get by utilizing manufacturer copay cards or patient assistance programs. If you are planning to get insulin via Amazon pharmacy but are still seeing high costs, go to GetInsulin.org to find cost-savings programs you may qualify for.
This is not Amazon’s first move in healthcare. Two years ago, Amazon bought the online pharmacy service, PillPack, for $750 million. Amazon Pharmacy is a practical business move given the company’s massive user base, nearing over 197 million members worldwide. Its launch has sent shock waves through the pharmaceutical industry as stocks in three of the major pharmacy chains, namely CVS Health Corp., Walgreens, and Rite Aid, plummeted.