Amazon launches prescription drug subscription service

Amazon adds a prescription drug discount program to its growing healthcare business.

The online retailer announced Tuesday that it will launch RxPass, a subscription service for customers with Prime membership. Amazon said users will pay $5 a month for as many prescriptions as they need from a list of about 50 generic drugs, which are often cheaper than brand-name drugs.

The flat fee would cover a list of drugs ranging from amoxicillin, an antibiotic, to naproxen, an anti-inflammatory, he added.

Sildenafil is also on the list. It is used to treat erectile dysfunction under the brand name Viagra and is also prescribed for a type of high blood pressure.

Amazon sells a wide catalog of generics through its pharmacy service. Some cost as little as a dollar for a 30-day supply, so the benefits of this new program will vary by customer.

The new plan is not associated with health insurance and will not be accessible to those with government-funded Medicaid or Medicare coverage. At launch it will be available in 42 states and Washington, DC

Any program that gets more patients low-cost generic drugs “is a positive thing,” said Karen Van Nuys, an economist who studies drug pricing at the University of Southern California, adding she wasn’t sure what impact it would have. RxPass.

Still, the move could help the company carve out a bigger foothold in the healthcare market, a sector in which it hasn’t always been successful. Last year, it shut down its hybrid home and virtual care service Amazon Care after failing to attract interest from firms. And Haven, a company he created with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway to improve healthcare costs, dissolved a year earlier.

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