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Is Amazon Entering the Pharmaceutical Business?

  • July 5, 2017
  • RPh on the Go

amazon pharmaceuticalAmazon started off as a bookseller and has grown into a discount retail conglomerate that many people use regularly. It has become the site you can rely on for buying practically anything and everything. Now it’s being speculated that Amazon could be entering the pharmaceutical sector. What would that mean for pharmacies across America? Can they really break into our sector?

There are other online pharmaceutical companies that do quite well for themselves, and to have Amazon begin to consider the market is probably creating fear among them. Amazon has become the Walmart of online shopping, most notably making it easy to find what you need at a cheaper price than what you can find locally. It will be interesting to see what the pricing model will be for pharmaceuticals at Amazon. Since it’s the drug companies setting the prices, how can they get in and lower the price to make it attractive for folks who need these medicines?

And what does this mean for our patients? In some cases, it can be a huge benefit for them to be able to get their meds delivered to their door. We have plenty of patients with mobility issues who would benefit from the convenience of not having to travel to the pharmacy. But as that option already exists, Amazon will have to find a way to make it even more enticing to attract those folks. When we look at services like Pill Pack, who offer free shipping automatically, Amazon is going to have to work a little harder to make them stand out. They could be considering a different shipping model for just the pharmaceuticals or offering two-day and overnight shipping at a fair price

If patients rush to use Amazon for medicines, in the same way that they use it for everything else, it may be that patients are going to miss out on personalized care. Our society relies heavily on pharmacists for answering questions on the spot and watching over prescriptions for possible drug interactions. Amazon has an impressive business model, but so far, they have lacked in that sort of personal attention. They would need to consider taking on a team of online pharmacists who could be present for questions and asking customers if they understand the meds well. We already know people don’t read TOS agreements and the fine print online, so Amazon cannot rely on people to read prescription warnings on their site.

Assuming that Amazon will move forward into the pharmaceutical sector, it’s important that we talk with our patients and remind them about the personalized care we offer them without bashing the conglomerate. Our actions mean everything when it comes to healthcare, so let’s show them how much they mean to us!

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