For PBMs, Amazon Pharmacy May Be Both Friend and Foe

Amazon.com, Inc. made a splash in the health care world on Nov. 17 when the online retail powerhouse unveiled new pharmacy offerings that aim to disrupt the prescription drug market with increased convenience and savings. Industry analysts tell AIS Health that the competitive threat to major PBMs is likely to be minimal, as those firms have certain advantages and capabilities that Amazon won’t easily be able to match.

In fact, Amazon is partnering with one of the three largest PBMs — Cigna Corp.’s Express Scripts, which is now part of the firm’s rebranded Evernorth division — to offer the prescription-savings benefit that will be available to Amazon Prime members. Administered by Evernorth subsidiary Inside Rx, the benefit will leverage Express Scripts’ negotiated rates for drugs to offer savings to customers who are paying without insurance. “It can be used for discounts up to 80% off generic and 40% off brand name medications at over 50,000 participating pharmacies nationwide, including Amazon Pharmacy and the PillPack by Amazon Pharmacy service,” according to a press release.

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Leslie Small

Leslie Small

Leslie has been working in journalism since 2009 and reporting on the health care industry since 2014. She has covered the many ups and downs of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the failed health insurer mega-mergers, and hundreds of other storylines spanning subjects such as Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, employer-sponsored insurance, and prescription drug coverage. As the managing editor of Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits, she writes and edits for both publications while overseeing a small team of reporters who also focus on the managed care sector. Before joining AIS Health, she was a senior editor for the e-newsletter Fierce Health Payer, and she started her career as a copy editor at multiple local newspapers. She graduated with a dual degree in journalism and political science from Penn State University.

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