(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. has started a subscription service that lets Prime members purchase multiple drugs for a flat fee of $5 a month, the e-commerce giant’s latest foray into health care.
Called RxPass, the offering lets patients order generic medications that treat more than 80 common health conditions, the company said in a statement Tuesday. Customers need to be members of Amazon’s $139-a-year Prime service to join and will be entitled to free delivery.
Prices for some individual generic drugs are already cheap, so $5 a month doesn’t necessarily represent a discount, said Kate McCarthy, a Gartner vice president who tracks health care. But for patients juggling multiple medications, it may be.
“Let’s say I take a blood-pressure med and an antidepressant, I probably can’t get both of those for $5 somewhere else,” she said.
RxPass is available in most US states but for now excludes a number of heavily populated ones, including California, Pennsylvania and Texas. The program’s web page lists a menu of 53 available medications.
“They’re going for wallet-share for their most loyal customers,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think they’re going into this trying to make money. They’re trying to get customers” for their pharmacy offerings.
Amazon for years has been trying to become a force in the health care industry. The Seattle-based company purchased mail-order pharmacy PillPack Inc. in 2018 and joined a much ballyhooed health care venture with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. that fizzled out after three years.
Amazon also developed a telehealth and home health service, called Amazon Care, that wound down after operating for a little more than a year. Amazon is now trying to purchase the parent of the One Medical line of medical clinics for $3.49 billion.
The shares were down about 1% at 10:45 a.m. in New York.
(Updated with analyst comment in third paragraph.)
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