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Amazon just rolled out unlimited prescription meds for $5 per month as it continues to muscle into health care world

January 24, 2023, 4:07 PM UTC
A mother and daughter doing research online together about medications
Amazon announced RxPass, a $5 per month add-on for Prime members that will give them access to prescription generic drugs for more than 80 health conditions.
Getty Images

Amazon’s long-awaited push to disrupt the health care industry in a manner similar to how it changed retail is underway.

The company on Tuesday announced RxPass, a $5 per month add-on for Prime members that will give them access to prescription generic drugs for more than 80 health conditions, ranging from high blood pressure to acid reflux to anxiety.

The flat fee covers all meds, so a patient who takes prescription drugs for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and anxiety would pay just $5 per month, versus the $30 or more they pay currently. Some of the generic drugs, sold through the Amazon Pharmacy program (which will continue separately) sell for up to $15 per month if purchased separately.

“RxPass isn’t insurance, but it can be helpful for those without insurance, or when insurance doesn’t cover certain medications,” the company said in a statement. “Many people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and anxiety will find their medications are eligible.”

The service is available beginning today to customers in 42 states, though those in California, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington are not currently eligible.

Amazon began selling prescription drugs more than two years ago, acquiring online pharmacy PillPack in 2018 for $753 million, then launching sales in November 2020, the heart of the pandemic’s early days, when many people were avoiding going to brick-and-mortar pharmacies.

The PillPack acquisition sent shock waves through the pharmacy industry. Robert W. Baird health supply-chain analyst Eric Coldwell said at the time that the purchase was “a full frontal attack” on the health care space, noting, “The Street will view this Amazon move as the beginning of the threat, not the entirety of it.” Evercore ISI health tech and distribution analyst Ross Muken likened it to “a scene from Game of Thrones.

The rollout of RxPass comes a month after Amazon shut down one of its other health care outreach programs. Amazon Care, the company’s telehealth service, saw its last virtual patient on Dec. 31.  The company said at the time that the service wasn’t “the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers.”

RxPass isn’t likely to be the company’s last move in the health care space. Amazon acquired boutique primary-care provider 1Life Healthcare for $3.9 billion last July. And it attempted to purchase home health services firm Signify Health, though CVS ultimately won that battle.

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