Many analysts believe Amazon is poised to take on the prescription drug industry. What would it look like?
Amazon has changed the way people buy books, clothes, and the latest tech gear.
Today, many analysts believe Amazon may be on the verge of doing the same for the prescription drug industry.
Analysts began to see signs last year that Amazon may enter the prescription drug market soon.
In October, the online retailer received approvals for wholesale drugstore licenses in at least 12 states, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In December, however, Amazon missed the deadline to implement drug distribution in Maine, adding to the uncertainty of its plans.
The company has yet to publicly comment on its intentions.
Amazon’s entry into the prescription drug market would certainly make a difference – the way its purchase of Whole Foods should lead to the grocery delivery business.
Morgan Stanley estimates that prescriptions by mail represent about $ 106 billion of the $ 465 billion in the drug trade in the United States.
Amazon’s entry into this market would increase the company’s bottom line.
But if Amazon opens an online pharmacy, you will find that the market is dominated by Walgreens, CVS Health, and other companies.
Some analysts see Amazon’s current distribution capabilities and its Prime membership as assets that could help the company gain significant market share.
It can also expand its reach by partnering with a pharmacy benefits manager such as ExpressScripts or directly with prescription drug manufacturers.
Saving money on online meds
It’s hard to know what an Amazon online pharmacy will look like, especially since we don’t know the company’s plans.
But other companies have already entered the field, with obvious benefits for consumers.
“The obvious benefit is that it’s convenient for the individual,” said Diana Graallum, MD, BCPS, director of clinical pharmacy at MedSavvy, an Oregon-based company that offers an online tool to compare drugs by. cost and efficiency.
This is especially true for ongoing medications such as statins or type 2 diabetes medications.
With automatic top-ups and regular home deliveries, you no longer need to fit a trip to the pharmacy into your schedule.
You can also save on gas and all the impulse buying you usually make while waiting for your prescription to be filled.
Plus, people may be less likely to miss doses if they always have their medications on hand. It can prevent health problems in the future.
“For drugs that can improve your survival, reduce the risk of hospitalization and increase your quality of life, we want to make them convenient and affordable so people can live better, longer and healthier lives,” Graalum told Healthline.
Online pharmacies can also cut many steps between manufacturer and consumers.
This includes the pharmacy benefit manager, the distributor and the pharmacy chain.
This can reduce costs even further.
But not all drugs purchased from online pharmacies will be cheaper.
If you pay for prescription drugs with health insurance, your co-contributions are those set by your insurance company.
This can help you pay for expensive brand name drugs. But sometimes the contributions on generic drugs are higher than what you would pay out of pocket for the same drug.
“We believe that a significant proportion of Americans pay more than they should pay for their prescription drugs,” said Joe Peters, president and CEO of HealthWarehouse, a Kentucky-based online pharmacy specializing in generic drugs.
HealthWarehouse is a cash payment company that does not accept health insurance. But Peters said the company can often offer many drugs that are cheaper than the combination drug, especially for a 90 or 180 day supply.
This makes direct payment a good deal for many people.
“It’s not just for the uninsured,” Peters told Healthline. “Right now there are a large number of people who are underinsured.”
As with other reputable online pharmacies, HealthWarehouse holds the Certified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) seal by the National Association of Pharmaceutical Authorities.
Challenges to buying meds online
While shopping online takes the hassle out of waiting in line or crossing traffic, you lose some of the personal touch of a traditional drugstore.
“All medicines are meant to help us, not to hurt us, but if taken incorrectly or forgotten they can hurt,” Graallum said. “Interaction with the pharmacist is very beneficial in avoiding unwanted effects.”
HealthWarehouse is responding to this development by advising all customers during online verification. If they have any questions, one of the company’s pharmacists will contact them by phone.
People can also be prevented from purchasing their medications online due to the sheer amount of personal information they have to enter the first time they shop at an online pharmacy.
This includes your usual name, address, and payment information, as well as health information such as drug allergies, other medications they are taking, and doctor information.
While this is no different than what you might get at your neighborhood drugstore, some people may refuse to share this with Amazon.
As people become more comfortable interacting with their doctors and other healthcare providers online, more and more people will turn to online pharmacies.
The high cost of prescription drugs can help move this file forward.
“When more people are shocked at the stickers – higher amounts, higher discounts – they’ll start looking and buying,” Peters said.
Right now, online pharmacies are focused on filling current prescriptions. Part of this is because of the cost as its overhead is lower when filling a 90 or 180 day supply.
But it’s also a question of timing.
After receiving a prescription, HealthWarehouse ships the medication within one to three days. This works if you already have a supply of grain on hand.
But if your doctor prescribes an antibiotic for a sore throat or pneumonia, you need it that day.
Graalum believes Amazon can use its drone delivery system to achieve this.
“Someday we might have a situation where your doctor prescribes medication for you, and a drone flies into your house and drops it off as soon as you get home,” Graallum said.