Amazon Announces Two New Entities in the Pharmacy Channel

Recently, Amazon announced its launch of two new entities in the pharmacy channel, Amazon Pharmacy and Amazon Prime Prescription Savings Benefit. Amazon has been slowly entering into pharmacy over the last couple of years after its acquisition of Pill Pack.

Amazon Pharmacy is the company’s newly minted online pharmacy business built on the backbone of PillPack. Amazon is finding ways to work with retail channels via its exclusive relationship with InsideRx powered by Express Scripts. The new entity enables customers to upload their insurance information onto the online platform, have their prescriptions sent from their provider to Amazon, and distributed by mail (30 day supplies only).

Amazon Prime Prescription is a prescription savings program (similar to GoodRx) that will be administered by Ciga/Evernorth. The prescription savings benefit provides a discounted price, without insurance, for generic and brand name drugs. Members can get these discounts at more than 50,000 physical pharmacies including Walgreens, Costco, CVS, Rite Aid and Walmart. Additionally, Prime members will be able to receive two-day delivery with no added charge.

Key Insights:

Similar to GoodRx, the aggressive discounts will be very attractive for consumers who pay for their medications with cash, whether they are uninsured or are looking to save money.

  • The Amazon Prime prescription savings benefit saves members up to 80% off generic and 40% off brand name medications when paying without insurance.
  • They will only offer 30 day supply at this time and no automatic refills are currently available
  • Amazon will display both the price when using insurance and the price without insurance. Infusing transparency into a system that has been frustratingly opaque for consumers could alter the supply chain.
  • Amazon could find it difficult to quickly pry away customers from pharmacy chains. For many consumers, asking doctors to steer recurring prescriptions elsewhere is cumbersome, especially for those who rely on insurance to pay for their medication Amazon’s entry into a market doesn’t guarantee its dominance. Drugstores have long insisted that patients prefer to talk to their pharmacist at the counter, an experience Amazon will try to recreate digitally. We are at the very beginning of Amazon’s entry and would not be surprised to see more actions in the future.

COVID-19 Vaccines Announced by Pfizer and Moderna 

Moderna and Pfizer have both announced vaccines for Covid-19 showing 94.5 – 95% effectiveness in preventing the infection. The early data, based on Moderna’s 30,000-person trial and Pfizer’s 60,000-person trial. The data from both trials are encouraging, but there are still significant unknowns.

Moderna and Pfizer have said they’ll apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA and if they get that approval, frontline and other emergency workers could get them as soon as the end of this year. For everyone else, spring 2021 is likely the earliest the vaccines could be available. Pfizer, which can manufacture many more doses, has said its vaccine requires an ultra-cold freezer for storage, but Moderna’s can be stored in a conventional refrigerator. Researchers think that, unlike a measles vaccine that offers lifelong protection, a Covid-19 vaccine will only offer short-term immunity and may need booster shots. But just how long immunity will last is still an unknown.

More than 1 Million Children in the U.S. have been Infected with COVID-19 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the children’s Hospital Association recently announced that more than 1 million kids have now been diagnosed with Covid-19. Now nearly 1 in every 10 people infected with Covid-19 in the U.S. is a child, yet, mortality in this group remains low.

Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty to Role in Opioid Crisis, Will Pay Over $8.3 Billion in Penalties 

Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, pled guilty to three federal criminal charges formally admitting its role in an opioid epidemic that contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths over the past couple of decades. They will pay $8.3B in penalties and over $225M in fee’s back to the United States Government.

CVS Pharmacy Offering PayPal, Venmo Touchless Payment 

CVS Pharmacy is now offering touch-free payment using PayPal and Venmo QR codes at 8,200 standalone retail locations. This allows customers to securely pay for their items without needing to touch a keypad or sign a receipt, while also being able to access multiple payment methods available in PayPal and Venmo wallets.

Diabetes Insights & Statistics 

More than 34 million Americans are living with diabetes, a disease that costs the U.S. more than $327 billion per year. However, the disease does not affect all segments of the population equally. Diabetes is one of the clearest examples of how social determinants of health (SDoH) impact populations differently. The risk of being diagnosed with diabetes is 77% higher among African Americans and 66% higher among Latinos/Hispanics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Did you know…
  • Roughly $1 out of every $3 non-specialty dollars is spent on diabetes
  • 30-40% of pharmacy spend is on diabetes medications, representing only 8-10% of total scripts
  • New diabetic medications and generic alternatives are in the pipeline
  • Typically 8 out of the top 20 drugs in a plan’s utilization are medications to treat

Your EPIC Pharmacy team will provide you updates and recommendations to make sure costs and medication adherence are addressed appropriately for your employees.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE 

DRUG PIPELINE UPDATE (PDF)

This report includes:

  • New FDA Drug Approvals
  • New FDA Indications
  • Drug Safety Alert
  • New Generics Launched

 

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BobEisendrath-ContactTile
Bob Eisendrath

National Pharmacy Practice Leader