Amazon launches $5 monthly subscription for generic drugs

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In its latest dive into healthcare, Amazon is launching a generic medication subscription service through its online pharmacy.

RxPass, which will be available to Prime members, will deliver generic drugs for common conditions like high blood pressure, anxiety and acid reflux. The tech and retail giant said the service will cost a flat fee of $5 per month. 

The program won’t accept insurance, and it’s available now in most U.S. states. Amazon is pitching RxPass to patients with multiple chronic conditions, arguing the subscription could save them money and time. 

“Navigating insurance can be a maze and getting to the pharmacy a burden. Sometimes that has led to poor outcomes: New medications don’t get filled, refills don’t get picked up, and patients suffer. Aspects of our healthcare system make what should be easy, difficult. It’s why I feel so fortunate to be a part of the change that Amazon Pharmacy is helping to bring to this space,” Dr. Vin Gupta, chief medical officer at Amazon Pharmacy, wrote in the announcement. 

THE LARGER TREND

Amazon has been expanding its reach in healthcare. In November, the company announced Amazon Clinic, a direct-to-consumer virtual service that aims to offer care for common conditions like hair loss, heartburn, acne, dandruff and seasonal allergies. It also revealed plans to acquire primary care provider One Medical last year, which has been moving through the regulatory process. 

Amazon purchased digital pharmacy PillPack in 2018, and it launched Amazon Pharmacy about two years later. 

High drug costs are a long-term problem in the U.S. healthcare system. Affordability is a particular challenge for people taking multiple medications: a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found 32% of those taking four or more prescription drugs cited difficulty affording their medications. 

There are other digital health companies touting their approaches to lowering drug costs. Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company, which aims to provide medications at a lower cost by working directly with distributors and manufacturers, has recently announced multiple partnerships with pharmacy benefit managers

In October, GoodRx announced a price transparency platform for providers, which would allow clinicians to search for cost information during appointments with patients.

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