Amazon’s long-awaited push to disrupt the healthcare industry in a manner similar to how it changed retail is underway.
The company, on Tuesday, announced RxPass, a $5 per month add-on for Prime Members that will give them access to prescription generic drugs for more than 80 health conditions, ranging from high blood pressure to acid reflux to anxiety.
The flat fee covers all meds, so a patient who takes prescription drugs for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and anxiety would pay just $5 per month, versus the $30 or more they pay currently. Some of the generic drugs, sold through Amazon’s Pharmacy program (which will continue separately) sell for up to $15 per month if purchases separately.
“RxPass isn’t insurance, but it can be helpful for those without insurance, or when insurance doesn’t cover certain medications,” the company said in a statement. “Many people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and anxiety will find their medications are eligible.”
The service is available beginning today to customers in 42 states, though those in California, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington are not currently eligible.
Amazon began selling prescription drugs more than two years ago, acquiring online pharmacy PillPack Inc. in 2018 for $753 million, then launching sales in November 2020, the heart of the pandemic’s early days, when many people were avoiding going to brick and mortar pharmacies.
The PillPack acquisition sent shock waves through the pharmacy industry. Robert W. Baird health supply-chain analyst, Eric Coldwell, at the time said the purchase was “a full frontal attack” on the healthcare space, noting: “The Street will view this Amazon move as the beginning of the threat, not the entirety of it.” Evercore ISI health tech and distribution analyst, Ross Muken likened it to “a scene from ‘Game of Thrones.”
The rollout of RxPass comes a month after Amazon shut down one of its other healthcare outreach programs. Amazon Care, the company’s telehealth service, saw its last virtual patient on Dec. 31. The company, at the time, said the service wasn’t “the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers.”
RxPass isn’t likely to be the company’s last move in the healthcare space. Amazon acquired boutique primary care provider 1Life Healthcare for $3.9 billion last July. And it attempted to purchase home health services firm Signify Health, though CVS ultimately won that battle.
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