Amazon ramps up healthcare competition with launch of online pharmacy, prescription savings benefit

Online retail behemoth Amazon is further ramping up the healthcare competition among national pharmacy giants the likes of CVS and its e-prescribing service Surescripts with the rollout of the new Amazon Pharmacy.

Customers can now purchase prescription medications through Amazon Pharmacy – convenient and reliable access, without leaving home. (Photo: Business Wire)
Amazon announced the launch of Amazon

Pharmacy Tuesday. (Business Wire)

Amazon Pharmacy, a new store on Amazon, will allow customers to complete an entire pharmacy transaction on their desktop or mobile device through the Amazon app, officials said in an announcement. Customers will have a "secure pharmacy profile" where they can add their insurance information, manage prescriptions and choose payment options before checking out. Prime members receive unlimited, free two-day delivery, officials said.

As part of the announcement, officials said they will begin offering prescription savings benefits. Officials said the offering will give Prime members access to savings on medications at Amazon Pharmacy—as well as at more than 50,000 other participating pharmacies nationwide—when paying without insurance.

The Amazon Prime prescription savings benefit saves members up to 80% off generic and 40% off brand-name medications when paying without insurance, officials said.

“We designed Amazon Pharmacy to put customers first—bringing Amazon’s customer obsession to an industry that can be inconvenient and confusing,” said TJ Parker, vice president of Amazon Pharmacy, in a statement. “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.”

When tech giant Amazon acquired PillPack in 2018, it was considered a shot at the traditional drug supply chain. The company's move into the pharmacy space has caused friction with legacy companies in the space including Surescripts and CVS Health.

Surescripts has attempted to shut PillPack off from access to patient medication data. Surescripts is owned by competitors CVS Health and pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts.

But PillPack also has gained some new partnerships. Last year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts announced it will integrate Amazon’s PillPack into its member app, making it the first health plan to offer this type of direct integration with the online pharmacy.

It's an increasingly competitive landscape. UnitedHealth Group stepped into the online pharmacy space with the acquisition of startup DivvyDose earlier this year. Walmart also previously snapped up medication management technology from startup CareZone.