A little over two years after its $753 million acquisition of the prescription medicine delivery service Pillpack, Amazon has finally launched Amazon Pharmacy, its online and mobile prescription medication ordering and fulfillment service.
The launch of the new Pharmacy service within Amazon is a blow to other discount prescription services like the publicly traded GoodRx and companies like RxSaver and delivery services like ExactCare Pharmacy.
The competition from Amazon was likely one reason why GoodRx began offering telemedicine services as a point of differentiation and to move up the value chain. It will be interesting to see if Amazon will also move to providing virtual care for more than its employees.
Last year, the company rolled out Amazon Care for its workers in Seattle as part of a pilot service that provided both in-person and telemedicine services.
Using a secure pharmacy profile, Amazon customers can add their insurance information, manage prescriptions and choose payment options all through Amazon’s service. And in another small push towards wider healthcare services, and not just selling items, users are provided with “self-service help” tools on Amazon’s portal, and they also have the option to speak to pharmacists either via over the phone, for advice: “Friendly and knowledgeable pharmacists are available 24/7 to answer questions about medications.”
After launching its own line of over-the-counter drugs in 2019, this is arguably Amazon’s broadest push into the healthcare business to-date, one that could open up very large, new revenue opportunities for the company, especially as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic pushes consumers both toward more remote care, and using online channels for all their shopping needs.
While Amazon Pharmacy looks to be a US-only launch for now, it’s a global opportunity. Online pharmacy services are projected to hit revenues of $131 billion by 2025 worldwide. Prescription drugs, meanwhile, have been estimated to be a $904 billion industry this year, growing to nearly $1.3 trillion by 2025.
Amazon is also letting customers compare prices with their insurance co-pay, without insurance or with the savings available through the Prime prescription savings plan to choose the lowest option. Amazon is also staffing a pharmacy service accessible at all hours so that customers can answer questions about their medications.
In August, Amazon launched its fitness tracker, Halo. The personal health and wellness monitoring and advice service includes a $64.99 wrist tracker and an application suite for monitoring health.