HEALTH

Amazon launches $5-a-month unlimited prescription plan

Jan 24, 2023, 9:30 AM
Prescription opioid...
Amazon announced it will start a $5 prescription program. (Photo: Adobe Stock)
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

(CNN) — Amazon is expanding its push into healthcare with a $5 monthly unlimited delivery pass on 60 common generic prescription drugs treating allergies, inflammation, high blood pressure and other conditions.

Amazon announced the new delivery service, RXPass, on Tuesday and it will launch immediately in most states except California, Texas, Minnesota and others with specific prescription delivery requirements. Customers who are enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, or any other government health care program will not be able to sign up for the benefit.

The program is likely to save customers money on low-cost generic drugs but won’t impact prices for more expensive brand-name drugs, which drive the bulk of US prescription drug spending, say health care analysts and economists. They also expect Amazon to lose money on the service but see other benefits.

The $5-a-month delivery pass is an add-on to Amazon Prime, Amazon’s $139 annual program, and is available exclusively to Prime subscribers regardless of their insurance status.

Amazon has long offered a Prime prescription savings benefit to get discounts on generic and brand-name medications. The company said its new generic delivery program targets customers who take multiple prescriptions to manage chronic conditions and pay out-of-pocket costs for their medications.

Some of the generic drugs included in the program include Bupropion, Cephalexin, Doxycycline, Estradiol and Sertaline.

Although generic drugs represented around 86% of all US prescriptions in 2022 by volume, they made up just 20% of prescription drug spending, Evercore analyst Elizabeth Anderson said in note to clients Tuesday.

“The set of generics in Amazon’s new program represent 32% of generic drugs in 2021, and is likely a loss leader for Amazon,” she said, calling it an “incremental pharmacy experiment” for the company.

Amazon has focused its efforts on generics because it’s harder to compete with health insurers and other companies on branded and specialty drugs, she said.

Sean Nicholson, the director of the Sloan Program in Health Administration at Cornell University, believes that Amazon is introducing the generics program to boost Prime membership subscriptions, compel customers to switch to Amazon for higher-margin branded drugs, and get them to spend more on other products when they use the program.

Amazon’s new plan will mean consumers may see lower costs for some generic drugs, Nicholson said. But “it’s not going to do much, if anything, to push down spending on drugs that don’t face generic competition.”

RXPass is Amazon’s latest move to draw more healthcare spending from customers.

The company bought online pharmacy PillPack in 2018, launched its own Amazon Pharmacy in 2020 and last year launched a virtual health care clinic. The company last year also agreed to buy One Medical, a primary care provider, for $3.9 billion. That deal is awaiting regulatory approval.

-— CNN’s Tami Luhby contributed to this article.

Related: This is why prescription drugs cost so much

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Health

working from home...
Dale Spaulding

Is illness or poor air quality causing that cough?

Inversion can impact a person's health. Is the bad air the cause for people coughing are they catching regular illnesses?
16 hours ago
A woman wearing white sitting in front of a light box...
Michelle Lee

Winter blues: light therapy and lifestyle changes can help

SALT LAKE CITY – With the chilly weather and the shorter days, many people are prone to experience the winter blues. In the latest Let’s Get Moving with Maria podcast episode, host Maria Shilaos spoke with Dr. Jason Hunziker from the Huntsman Mental Health Institute about ways people can overcome the winter blues. Seasonal depression […]
2 days ago
A new study finds that reports of bad weather and air actually decrease ridership on the UTA....
Devin Oldroyd

Relief from inversion and poor air quality may be in Utah’s near future

The Beehive State is in the middle of some thick inversion and poor air quality, but relief may be on the way according to the National Weather Service.
4 days ago
A study by Intermountain Health that spanned 40 years and sought answers about the health of people...
Simone Seikaly

Intermountain’s 40-year study provides insight into weight-loss surgery

In some cases the results from the weight-loss surgery study were expected. But at least one result could be a cause for alarm and caution.
4 days ago
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a recall for mil...
Simone Seikaly

Check your pantry, a Conagra canned meat recall may affect you

Millions of pounds of canned meat and poultry products (mainly Vienna sausages) are involved in the Conagra recall.
4 days ago
Two temporary federal pandemic emergency assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming mon...
Waverly Golden

As two federal pandemic emergency-assistance programs near an end, Cox has solutions

Two temporary federal pandemic emergency assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming months due to more job opportunities.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Amazon launches $5-a-month unlimited prescription plan