Amazon launches subscription service for generic prescription medications

On Tuesday, Amazon unveiled its latest healthcare offering, RxPass, which will deliver generic prescription drugs to Prime members who pay an additional flat $5 monthly surcharge. The service, which currently covers 53 medications for common conditions, requires consumers to pay out-of-pocket rather than through insurance, but does not limit the number of drugs a subscriber can receive for the flat monthly fee.

RxPass is not yet able to ship medications to eight states, including (notably) California, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

The Gist: Paying $60 a year to avoid the hassle of going to a pharmacy or dealing with another mail-order delivery program will be a very attractive offer for many of the 168M US-based Amazon Prime subscribers, as much for the convenience as for the potential cost savings. 

But the concept isn’t novel. Case in point: Walmart continues to offer its $4 generic drug program, launched in 2006. Given that the average Prime member is 37 years old, Amazon’s flat-fee service offering will target a younger demographic with fewer medication needs—and complement the service offered by PillPack, acquired in 2018, which is built for older customers on multiple medications. An evolutionary, not revolutionary, step in Amazon’s ongoing moves into healthcare.

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