Chances are that when you’re shopping for gadgets, home décor or a number of other products, you turn to Amazon.com. The billion dollar e-retailer offers everything from textbooks to groceries and much more, but what about your prescription medication? It might be more likely than you think. Amazon is potentially taking aim at the healthcare industry and it could lead to big changes.
Analysts at Leerink, an investment firm which focuses on the health care industry, said in a report Friday that Amazon will “almost certainly” get into the prescription drug distribution business within the next two years. This isn’t the first time Amazon has taken interest in online medicine. Back in 1999, Amazon acquired a minority stake in drugstore.com, but it was later purchased by Walgreen’s in 2011. Drugstore.com was shut down last year in an effort for Walgreen’s to focus on its own online pharmacy projects.
With the move to healthcare, Amazon could also improve the so-called digital health industry. “Imagine seeing a virtual doctor on your Amazon app, having it prescribe you a certain medication, and then tapping a ‘buy now’ button — all without leaving your home” says Mark Lyons, an executive from the nonprofit health insurance company Premera Blue Cross, who was recently hired by Amazon. In short, Amazon would serve as the new “middleman” in healthcare. This could potentially improve drug price transparency for consumers by reducing out-of-pocket drug costs.
Even though many Americans have prescription drug plans through work, Amazon could create a ‘prime drug discount program’. Thus giving some members the choice to purchase their pharmacy benefit through Amazon, not their employers.
However, there will be a number of barriers to overcome and regulations to adhere to in order to enter the pharmaceutical industry. Amazon has much to consider moving forward, but it’s obvious that technology, like AI and the Internet of Things, such as Alexa, is driving us to a future of personalized healthcare.
Would you like the ability to order your prescriptions online or not? Let us know your feelings on Amazon making the move to healthcare in the comments. For more ways to make your health a priority, just call us at 724-929-2300. Our agents will do the comparing for you to get you the right coverage at the best price!