- Amazon has launched a new feature on its online pharmacy that automatically applies manufacturer-sponsored coupons to an eligible patient’s order.
- Amazon Pharmacy is currently offering coupons for eight brand name medications treating diabetes, asthma, obesity, emphysema and more. Amazon said it plans to work with additional manufacturers to add more coupons over time.
- Amazon launched Amazon Pharmacy three years ago as an online and transparent marketplace for prescription drugs that allows users to compare their insurance co-pay, the price without insurance or savings through Prime’s prescription savings benefit before paying for medication.
Some drug manufacturers offer coupons for brand name medication to reduce out-of-pocket costs on drugs, which can be prohibitively expensive. But coupons can be hard to find and use — one study cited by Amazon found patients only used the coupons 15% of the time they were available.
Amazon has partnered with manufacturers GSK, Kaléo, Novo Nordisk and Dexcom to integrate coupons for their brand name drugs — including Trelegy, AUVI-Q, Wegovy and the G6 and G7 continuous glucose monitoring systems — directly into Amazon Pharmacy.
When eligible patients check out, the coupons will be automatically applied to their order, according to Amazon.
However, the new manufacturer coupons can’t be used in tandem with RxPass or the Prime prescriptions savings benefit, Amazon said. They also can’t be used if the patient is covered by state or federal healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
Manufacturer coupons are the source of one of many skirmishes in the ongoing messaging war over what party is responsible for the rising cost of drugs.
Drugmakers argue that offering financial assistance allows patients to afford drugs and adhere to a treatment regimen.
Insurers and employers argue that coupons and other patient assistance allow pharmaceutical companies to raise prices on drugs while ameliorating the financial burden on the consumer, saddling payers with higher costs as a result.
Amazon said its goal is to increase automatic savings for Amazon Pharmacy users. The company pitches Amazon Pharmacy as a convenient and inexpensive way to get medications delivered directly to users’ homes. Amazon Pharmacy includes a prescription savings benefit for Prime members, which can result in discounts of up to 80% off generic and 40% off brand name medications at participating pharmacies when paying without insurance.
Amazon also launched RxPass earlier this year. RxPass is a Prime membership benefit that allows users to fill unlimited prescriptions from a list of about 50 generic medications for $5 a month.
The company also purchased online pharmacy PillPack in 2018 and built up that business’ distribution capabilities before launching Amazon Pharmacy for consumers nationwide two years later in an effort to compete with drugstores like CVS and Walgreens, amid the rising need for affordable medications.
However, the business has struggled to get interest from its Prime members, according to Business Insider. A Morgan Stanley survey cited by the outlet found just 2% of Amazon Prime members said pharmacy was the reason they used their Prime membership.
Pharmacy is just one prong of Amazon’s healthcare ambitions. The ecommerce giant’s healthcare portfolio has grown to include telehealth, wearable devices, clinical research, nutrition and more. Last summer, Amazon announced plans to acquire primary care company One Medical for $3.9 billion, and in November, Amazon announced Amazon Clinic, a virtual marketplace to connect consumers to telemedicine providers.
Amazon’s efforts to elbow into healthcare haven’t always been successful. The company shut down its hybrid care offering for employers, called Amazon Care, at the end of 2022. Another effort to lower healthcare costs, Haven, flamed out in 2021 after a few years.