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Amazon starts $5 per month drug subscription service for Prime members

An Amazon logo on a delivery van
Amazon is adding a prescription drug discount program to its growing healthcare business. The retail giant said Tuesday that it will launch RxPass, a subscription service for customers who have Prime memberships. The program, for now, excludes California.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)
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Amazon.com has started a subscription service that lets Prime members purchase multiple drugs for a flat fee of $5 a month, the e-commerce giant’s latest foray into healthcare.

Called RxPass, the offering lets patients order generic medications that treat more than 80 common health conditions, the company said in a statement Tuesday. Customers need to be members of Amazon’s $139-a-year Prime service to join and will be entitled to free delivery.

Prices for some individual generic drugs are already cheap, so $5 a month doesn’t necessarily represent a discount, said Kate McCarthy, a Gartner vice president who tracks healthcare. But for patients juggling multiple medications, it may be.

“Let’s say I take a blood pressure med and an antidepressant,” she said. “I probably can’t get both of those for $5 somewhere else.”

RxPass is available in most U.S. states but for now excludes a number of heavily populated ones, including California, Pennsylvania and Texas. The program’s web page lists a menu of 53 available medications.

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“They’re going for wallet-share for their most loyal customers,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think they’re going into this trying to make money. They’re trying to get customers” for their pharmacy offerings.

Amazon for years has been trying to become a force in the healthcare industry. The Seattle-based company purchased mail-order pharmacy PillPack in 2018 and joined a much ballyhooed healthcare venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway that fizzled out after three years.

Amazon has started its biggest-ever round of jobs cuts — a culling that will ultimately affect 18,000 workers around the globe.

Amazon also developed a telehealth and home health service, Amazon Care, that wound down after operating for a little more than a year. Amazon is now trying to purchase the parent of the One Medical line of medical clinics for $3.49 billion.

The company’s shares were down about 1% at 10:45 a.m. Eastern time.


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