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Amazon launches pharmacy services in the US, adds services for Prime members

Amazon.com launched ‘Amazon Pharmacy’ in the United States (US) on Tuesday, allowing customers to order prescription medicines online for home delivery, as well as increasing Prime’s value proposition by adding services around medicine delivery and purchasing. Customers will be able to add their insurance information and manage prescriptions. Prime members without health insurance can get substantive discounts on Amazon Pharmacy, as well as at 50,000 physical drugstores countrywide.

“…customers can compare their insurance co-pay, the price without insurance, or the available savings with the new Prime prescription savings benefit to choose their lowest price option,” Amazon said in a statement.

Amazon Pharmacy will now be available in 45 out of 50 states, according to CNBC. The announcement comes at a time when COVID-19 infections are expected to soar with winter arriving in the US. Needless to say, remote orders and delivery of essentials could be a permanent change as the pandemic drags on. Medical retail will be another big market for Amazon, which acquired PillPack in 2018. Amazon Pharmacy is partly deployed on PillPack’s technology — including its pharmacy software, fulfillment centres, and health plan tie-ups, as per CNBC. 

In India, Amazon offers home delivery of prescription-based, over-the-counter medicines, basic health devices, as well as Ayurvedic medicines in Bengaluru.

How it will work, Prime perks

To order medicines, Amazon will ask customers for their doctors’ prescriptions. Additionally, the e-commerce platform will require the name, date of birth, sex, and last four digits of a person’s social security number to create a profile and communicate these details with pharmacists. Doctors can send the prescriptions to Amazon Pharmacy or patients can ask for their data to be transferred from an existing druggist, including from large retailers such as Walgreens and CVS, according to CNBC. Amazon said it does not share Protected Health Information outside of the pharmacy for advertising or marketing purposes without clear permission from the customer. Further it will not deliver Schedule-II controlled medications, including opioids. 

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With the “prescription savings benefits”, Prime members will be able to access discounts of up to 80% on generic and 40% off-brand name medicines at 50,000 pharmacies, apart from Amazon Pharmacy and PillPack. Prime members will also get free two-day delivery. Those without Prime can get free delivery within five days or pay US$5.99 to upgrade to two-day delivery. The savings benefit is backed by a drug discounting program Inside Rx, which is a part of insurance giant Cigna’s portfolio. Customers will also have access to speak to pharmacists over the phone 24×7.

PillPack will be a part of Amazon Pharmacy and remain a distinct service for customers managing multiple daily medicines for chronic conditions. 

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