On Tuesday, Amazon announced the launch of Amazon Pharmacy, an online store for people to order their prescription medications. Customers can set up an Amazon Pharmacy account, add their insurance information and prescriptions, then shop for meds and compare prices.
Although this marks a big step into the lucrative healthcare industry for the once-upon-a-time-online-bookseller, it shouldn’t be too surprising. Amazon has been expanding into several new verticals over the past few years — from its acquisition of Whole Foods, to its line-up of Kindle and Alexa hardware products, to its Amazon Music streaming platform and Amazon Studios movie and TV production studio. Amazon just keeps popping up in industries you wouldn’t expect it.
But Amazon has actually had healthcare in its sights for a few years. In 2018, Amazon joined forces with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase to create a joint healthcare venture dubbed Haven. Also in 2018, Amazon paid hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire healthtech startup PillPack, which delivers prescription medications bundled together depending on each person’s needs.
While Amazon still operates PillPack separately (for now), Amazon Pharmacy draws parallels to PillPack by selling prescription medications online. The key difference being that PillPack sorts medications by dose, while Amazon Pharmacy sells prescription meds by the bottle — similar to a traditional pharmacy.
But what’s most special about Amazon Pharmacy is the way it’s able to leverage Amazon’s expertise in the e-commerce space. The interface is just like shopping on Amazon.com and it gives shoppers the ability to compare both name brand and generic medications.
Amazon Pharmacy also offers benefits to Amazon Prime members, like free two-day shipping and up to 80 percent off generic meds when paying without insurance. This level of convenience is a breath of fresh air compared to the traditional pharmacy experience, but of course, Amazon has built its empire based on convenience.
“We designed Amazon Pharmacy to put customers first — bringing Amazon’s customer obsession to an industry that can be inconvenient and confusing,” Amazon Pharmacy VP TJ Parker said in a statement. “We work hard behind the scenes to handle complications seamlessly so anyone who needs a prescription can understand their options, place their order for the lowest available price, and have their medication delivered quickly.”
Amazon Pharmacy is currently available in every U.S. state besides Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana and Minnesota.