Amazon starts selling prescription drugs, with two-day delivery for Prime members

The pandemic was a huge boost for Amazonís grocery business. Can it do the same for this new offering?


By Jason Del Rey, VOX/Recode

Nov 17, 2020


When Amazon spent $750 million to acquire the online pharmacy PillPack in 2018, it was clear the tech giant had interest in the prescription drug market. Now we know how serious it was.


Amazon will start selling prescription medications on its main Amazon website and app on Tuesday, and will offer two-day delivery of these medications to Prime members for no extra fee. Prime members without prescription drug coverage, or with coverage that isnít great, can also save up to 80 percent on generic and 40 percent on brand name drugs when paying out of pocket without insurance. Prices with, and without insurance, can be compared at checkout.


ďOur goal is to make accessing prescription medications as simple as any other purchase: saving customers time, giving them more control over their purchases, and helping them stay healthy,Ē Amazon spokesperson Jacqui Miller said in an email.


Prescription drugs are a $500 billion market in the US, with patients spending $67 billion out of pocket at US retail pharmacies in 2019, according to IQVIA, a health data provider. Amazonís brick-and-mortar retail competitors like Walmart, Target, and Costco all have significant pharmacy presences across their chains of stores, and Amazon wants a piece of that, too. When Amazon executives talk about the desire to sell every genuine product in the world through, itís now clear that medications arenít excluded.


Amazonís acquisition of PillPack in 2018 gave the company entry into the growing online segment of the pharmacy industry, with a focus on Americans who have chronic illnesses and take multiple medications every day. PillPack presorts medications for its customers, before shipping them to their door. An Amazon spokesperson said customers with those prescription medication needs should still order directly through PillPack, which operates five pharmacies in the US and is licensed nationwide, but does not ship to Hawaii.


By offering the option to purchase prescription drugs through the main Amazon website, the tech giant is...