A little over two years after its $753 million acquisition of the prescription medicine delivery service PillPack, Amazon has finally launched Amazon Pharmacy, its online and mobile prescription medication ordering and fulfillment service.
Using a secure pharmacy profile, customers can add their insurance information, manage prescriptions and choose payment options all through Amazon’s service. And in another small push toward wider healthcare services, and not just selling items (although, yes, the outcome is to sell items), users are provided with “self-service help” tools on Amazon’s portal, and they also have the option to speak to pharmacists over the phone for advice: “Friendly and knowledgeable pharmacists are available 24/7 to answer questions about medications.”
After launching its own line of over-the-counter drugs in 2019, this is arguably Amazon’s broadest push into the healthcare business to-date, one that could open very large, new revenue opportunities for the company, especially as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic pushes consumers both toward more remote care and using online channels for all their shopping needs.
Indeed, this is also more than just Amazon’s continued expansion as a one-stop shop for medicine and wellness. For many consumers, shopping at the pharmacy and shopping for groceries goes hand-in-hand (and of course over decades, many standalone pharmacies have moved more into becoming like stores selling food, while those selling food also have pharmacy counters).
Having this alongside Amazon’s very aggressive and ambitious grocery and food play — which mirrors its drug strategy by spanning its own brands as well as those it has bought it, including Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods, Amazon’s own brand items, and physical Amazon grocery stores — gives the company a more complete experience, where shoppers can more fully replace their shopping needs using Amazon alone.
While Amazon Pharmacy looks to be a U.S.-only launch for now, it’s a global opportunity. Online pharmacy services are projected to hit revenues of $131 billion by 2025 worldwide. Prescription drugs, meanwhile, have been estimated to be a $904 billion industry this year, growing to nearly $1.3 trillion by 2025.
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