The disruption begins: Amazon launches online pharmacy in the US

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Back in January, we reported that the e-commerce giant had filed to trademark ‘Amazon Pharmacy’ in Australia, a sign it was looking to enter the country’s lucrative pharmaceuticals market – now its US version has provided a glimpse into what it could look like.

Amazon Pharmacy, a section of its retail website and mobile application that lets people order medication, went live on yesterday (Tuesday US time), causing shares in pharmacy chains and distributors to drop dramatically in early trading.

The site – for users of Amazon’s paid membership program Prime – allows shoppers to pay for prescriptions with their health insurance. Prime members who do not use their insurance are eligible for discounts on generic and brand-name drugs on Amazon’s site or at around 50,000 participating pharmacies.

The launch comes over two years after Amazon acquired PillPack, an online pharmacy known for organising prescriptions into packets, for $US753 million (AUD$1.03 billion).

“We designed Amazon Pharmacy to put customers first – bringing Amazon’s customer obsession to an industry that can be inconvenient and confusing,” said TJ Parker, vice-president of Amazon Pharmacy and co-founder of PillPack.

Will it prove successful? Changing prescriptions requires a visit to the doctor’s office – a place many are currently steering clear of.

But with the coronavirus pandemic also driving online purchases, the shift could be a timely one.

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