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Amazon Pharmacy unveiled: Everything you need to know

Amazon Pharmacy
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Amazon Pharmacy is here to make getting prescription medications as easy as clicking a button. 

Amazon launched its own online pharmacy business that gives shoppers the ability to buy their medication and order refills and have it delivered to their doorsteps. Starting today, Amazon will offer commonly prescribed medications, including creams, pills and medications that need to stay cold, like insulin. Shoppers must have an Amazon profile and a prescription from a doctor.

Most insurance will be accepted, though Amazon Prime members without insurance can get discounts. Prime members also receive free delivery.

Amazon has been moving into the $300 billion pharmacy market over the last few years. In 2017, they bought the online pharmacy PillPack; its infrastructure (pharmacy software, fulfillment centers and relationships with health plans) helped build the new offering.

Amazon Pharmacy is likely to shake up the business and threaten traditional pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, just like the e-commerce giant has done with books sellers, grocers and other retailers.

And with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing for months, Americans may avoid going to brick-and-mortar stores and seek their medicines via mail. 

"We wanted to make it easy for people to get their medication, understand the cost and get it delivered to the home," said TJ Parker, Amazon's vice president of pharmacy, who previously co-founded PillPack. 

What is Amazon Pharmacy?

Amazon Pharmacy is a new service offering home delivery for prescription medication. Instead of taking your prescription to a nearby pharmacy, you can order medicine online, through the website or mobile app, and receive it by mail.

Starting this week, Amazon Pharmacy will operate in 45 states (excluding Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana and Minnesota). The company expects to expand to those states down the road. 

How do I order prescriptions from Amazon Pharmacy?

To use Amazon Pharmacy, customers must be over the age of 18 and have a prescription from a doctor. 

Doctors can send prescriptions directly to Amazon Pharmacy, or patients can request a transfer from an existing retailer, like CVS or Walgreens. Amazon has tools to verify prescriptions and prevent potential fraud. 

Before ordering medication for the first time, customers must create a secure pharmacy profile by answering questions required by law, such as their date of birth, gender as it was assigned at birth, and whether they are pregnant. 

Amazon said that customer health data is stored in compliance with federal HIPAA rules.

Does Amazon Pharmacy accept my insurance?

Most insurance will be accepted and shoppers can also use flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts for their purchases. Check to make sure your plan works with Amazon Pharmacy.

What drugs does Amazon Pharmacy sell (and not sell)?

Amazon Pharmacy offers many common medications, including a mix of generic and brand-name drugs, such as birth control, insulin, triamcinolone steroid creams, metformin for controlling blood sugar and sumatriptan for migraines. 

Amazon Pharmacy will not deliver Schedule II controlled medications, including most opioids.

What are the Amazon Pharmacy benefits for Prime Members?

Amazon Prime members get free, two-day delivery. If they are not using insurance for the purchase, they can receive discounts of up to 80% on generic medications and up to 40% on brand-name prescriptions. Learn more about which drugs are covered by the PrimeRX discounts.

Prime members can also get a prescription savings benefit card that gives them those discounts at over 50,000 pharmacies nationwide, including CVS, Walmart, Rite Aid and Walgreens. 

What if I have questions about my Amazon Pharmacy drugs?

Shoppers with questions about their medications can talk to a live pharmacist at any time online or by phone (855-745-5725).

Daytime phone support hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET and Saturday/Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

After normal business hours, customers can leave a voicemail and a pharmacist will return the call as soon as possible (within 30 minutes for urgent messages).