The new Amazon Pharmacy delivers prescription medications

The new Amazon Pharmacy delivers prescription medications

I'm sure there are plenty of jokes to be made about Amazon Pharmacy, but at the end of the day, anything that helps get potentially lifesaving medication to those in need more quickly and possibly less expensive is a good thing.

Amazon today announced two new pharmacy offerings in the United States through which customers can purchase their prescription medications.

"We understand the importance of access to affordable medication, and we believe Prime members will find tremendous value with the new Amazon Prime prescription savings benefit", said Jamil Ghani, VP, Amazon Prime, in a release. Amazon Pharmacy is instead gears towards refilling as-needed regular medications, like asthma inhalers.

The e-tail titan is launching Amazon Pharmacy, which allows USA customers to order prescription medications for home delivery, with free delivery for Amazon Prime members.

Shares of Amazon were trading at $3,150.01, up $18.95 or 0.61%.

The potential impact of Amazon's arrival in the pharmaceutical space rippled through that sector immediately.

Through its Amazon Prime prescription savings benefit and Amazon Pharmacy, the company is seeking to simplify the customer process of comparing prices and purchasing medications for home delivery.

Both companies also are providing more care and helping customers monitor chronic conditions like diabetes with services that can't be delivered by competitors such as Amazon. Dan Steiber, RPh, editor-in-chief of Directions in Oncology Pharmacy, said he believes PillPack may be more of a threat to retail pharmacies during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic as consumers are shopping from home and limiting outings.

Health economist Craig Garthwaite sees several reasons Amazon may become an attractive option for patients looking to fill prescriptions.

Medications still require a prescription from a licensed health care provider, the company noted.

Customers can browse the Amazon Pharmacy store for branded and generic versions of medications in different forms or dosages. Friendly and knowledgeable pharmacists are available 24/7 to answer questions about medications.

Amazon's prescription business could be appealing to the uninsured or people who have plans that make them pay a high deductible first before their coverage starts, added John Boylan, an analyst who covers Walgreens for Edward Jones. Prime members who do not use insurance not only get discounts on orders but also get free 2-day delivery. Amazon will accept most major insurance companies and offer medication to uninsured Amazon Prime members at a discount.

"We designed Amazon Pharmacy to put customers first - bringing Amazon's customer obsession to an industry that can be inconvenient and confusing", said T.J. Parker, VP, Amazon Pharmacy (and former cofounder of PillPack).