- Amazon's at-home prescription drug delivery company PillPack unveiled its first direct integration with a payer's app Tuesday.
- PillPack by Amazon Pharmacy is now directly available on not-for-profit Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts' member app, MyBlue, and the Boston-based insurers' beneficiaries can order, pay for and receive medications to their home for no extra fee.
- All BCBSM members are eligible for PillPack, but the payer is starting with its fully-insured commercial members and is targeting the product toward those taking multiple medications.
PillPack by Amazon Pharmacy is already in network with most major health plans and pharmacy benefit managers, but this pact is a signal of Amazon's nascent pharmacy business moving closer to traditional insurance providers.
A PillPack spokesperson declined to confirm or deny if the company was in talks to integrate directly in other payers' mobile apps and websites, but said the Amazon subsidiary is "happy to work with partners who want to create customer centric-experiences in pharmacy."
"By using the MyBlue app or website to switch to PillPack, members who take multiple medications won't need to stand in line at a pharmacy, spend their time sorting pills or worry about missing a refill," Katie Catlender, vice president of customer experience at BCBSM, said in a statement.
BCBSM covers 2.9 million members. About 12% of its beneficiaries take five or more maintenance medications and 43% take between two and four, spokesperson Amy McHugh told Healthcare Dive, noting the payer hopes many of them will "give PillPack a try as a way of simplifying their medication routines."
Seattle-based Amazon purchased online pharmacy PillPack for $753 million last year in a bid to disrupt the lucrative prescription medicine market in the U.S. Spending on prescription drugs nationwide is fast approaching $500 billion a year, according to IQVIA, a health data provider.
And there's no shortage of customers. Roughly 60% of Americans fall into PillPack's target consumer base — managing one chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease — and 40% have two or more, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That community is only likely to expand as the U.S. population skews older and accounts for a disproportionate share of the nation's $3.6 trillion in health spending.
Amazon is investing heavily in PillPack, seeking to hire 60 more people into the unit and officially rebranded the business as part of "Amazon Pharmacy" last month. PillPack's ex-CEO TJ Parker was promoted to Amazon Vice President over the summer, CNBC reported.
Meanwhile, established players like CVS Health and Walgreens are eyeing the Amazon-PillPack combo. Stocks of these traditional pharmacy chains plummeted following the news of the deal in June of last year.