Amazon as a drug distributor raises concerns about medication adherence, patient safety, pharmacist says

Amazon is reportedly exploring an entry into the pharmaceutical business in a move that some say would boost transparency and convenience. But one pharmacist argued the downsides to patient care outweigh the potential benefits.

Amazon is hiring new executives to formulate a plan to enter the pharmacy market and recruiting employees with pharmacy experience, according to CNBC.

Despite the convenience of purchasing drugs from a large, online wholesaler, C. Michael White, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Connecticut, said that approach could limit important interactions between pharmacists and patients.

“To my mind, any modest gains in efficiencies or cost savings are paid for dearly by the negative outcomes that result from medication-related errors and patients not following through on their prescriptions, while the waste of unused drugs will continue,” he wrote in The Conversation. “And while this problem has been with us for a while, Amazon, due to its size and ability to quickly dominate markets, would make the situation a lot worse.”

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Medication adherence is a difficult and expensive problem for the healthcare industry. A study last year showed patients that don’t take their medications as prescribed end up with thousands of dollars in subsequent medical costs.

Research also showed that patient-centered interventions can help improve adherence and catch medical errors, and that pharmacists can play a critical role in educating patients about their medication and catching prescribing errors.