January 27, 2023

Amazon adds generic prescription perk for Prime members


The Amazon Pharmacy home screen on a laptop computer arranged in the Brooklyn Borough of New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.

Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amazon on Tuesday announced a new prescription perk for U.S. Prime members, hoping to boost subscriptions and attract users to its pharmacy service.

The add-on, called RxPass, will allow Prime members to get as many drugs as they need from a list of 50 generic medications to treat more than 80 common chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, anxiety and diabetes. The service costs $5 a month per person, and delivery is free.

Amazon has pushed deeper into health care in recent years. The company launched its own online pharmacy in 2020, a service that was born out of its acquisition of PillPack in 2018. Amazon introduced, then shuttered, a telehealth service called Amazon Care, and announced in July it would acquire boutique primary care provider One Medical.

Amazon also offers a Prime prescription savings benefit, which offers a discount of up to 80% on generic medications and up to 40% on brand-name prescriptions.

Amazon is beefing up perks for its Prime subscription program as CEO Andy Jassy looks to cut costs elsewhere in the company. Amazon has eyed laying off about 18,000 employees, while it froze hiring in its corporate workforce and axed some projects. Still, Jassy has said Amazon intends to keep pursuing long-term opportunities, including health care.

The e-retailer faces competition in pharmacy from the likes of CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. Amazon hasn’t said how its online pharmacy offering has fared since launch. An August report from Morgan Stanley found Amazon Pharmacy didn’t rank as a top perk for Prime members, based on a survey of users, according to Business Insider.

Amazon’s chief medical officer Vin Gupta said the company is aiming to deliver a pharmacy experience that is “fundamentally different” from how pharmacies have existed over the last several decades.

“This is still day one for us where we’re at our beginning stages here, but we recognize that change is needed,” Gupta said in an interview. “That’s what patients across the country are telling us, and that’s what Amazon is responding to.”

RxPass doesn’t offer insulin or specialty medications, and it’s not available for people on Medicaid or Medicare. Gupta declined to say whether Amazon will expand the list of medications offered through RxPass in the future.

Approximately 150 million people are on at least one of the medications included in the initial RxPass formulary, he said.

— CNBC’s Bertha Coombs contributed to this article.



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