The discounts will be applied to eligible medications when consumers check out, saving patients and providers headaches in searching for coupons.
Nashville – Amazon Pharmacy says it is making it easier for consumers to get coupons for some of their prescription drugs.
The pharmacy branch of the giant online retailer announced a new feature to automatically apply coupons for prescription drugs from some manufacturers. In some cases, patients will no longer have to hunt or ask if a coupon is available for one of their prescriptions. For eligible patients, the coupon will be applied when they go to check out.
Amazon Pharmacy leaders talked about the new program at the ViVE Conference Wednesday.
Patients want shopping for prescription drugs to be as easy as buying other products on Amazon, said Laura Jensen, Amazon Pharmacy’s head of manufacturer and prescriber business development.
She acknowledged that in making the announcement, some may be wondering why Amazon hasn’t offered such a feature all along.
“The answer is it’s really hard,” Jensen said. Many of these systems don’t talk to each other.
Amazon Pharmacy says it is working with GSK, Kaléo, Novo Nordisk, and Dexcom to automatically apply the coupons to some well-known prescription medications, including Trelegy, Wegovy, AUVI-Q, and continuous glucose monitoring systems.
Eventually, Amazon Pharmacy aims to add more drug manufacturers to the mix and offer more automatic coupons for consumers, Jensen said. She said she hopes more announcements are made in the summer.
Many consumers don’t know there are prescription drug discounts available, said Vin Gupta, Amazon Pharmacy’s chief medical officer. Gupta pointed to a study in Massachusetts that found only 15% of patients used drug manufacturer coupons that were available.
If it’s easier for patients to get discounts and follow their medication plans, Gupta says, “We think we can improve clinical outcomes.”
Gupta also touted the virtue of making life a bit easier for patients. "It makes what should be simple as easy as possible," he said.
Krysta Alexinas, vice president of trade for Dexcom, joined Amazon Pharmacy leaders on stage at ViVE. She described it as a step to help patients save money and aggravation.
“It puts the patient in the spot to choose what’s most important to them,” Alexinas said. “It’s a game changer.”
Alexinas added that the program simplifies work for providers prescribing drugs, saving them time they lose in searching for eligible discounts.
Amazon recently announced a subscription plan that offers common prescription drugs for $5 per month. Gupta said the consumer response to that program has been strong.
The online retailer is becoming a bigger player in healthcare. Amazon recently completed the $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, which offers primary and virtual care to patients who subscribe for annual memberships.
Other retailers are making aggressive moves into the delivery of healthcare.
CVS Health recently announced it is buying Oak Street Health in a $10.6 billion deal. Last September, CVS announced it was buying Signify Health, with a network of doctors delivering care to patients at home, in an $8 billion transaction.
VillageMD, backed by Walgreens Boots Alliance, purchased Summit Health-CityMD in a $8.9 billion deal in October.