Amazon opens online pharmacy, shaking up another industry

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Amazon-Pharmacy

In this Oct. 1, 2020 file photo, an Amazon logo appears on an Amazon delivery van, in Boston. Amazon opened an online pharmacy Tuesday, Nov. 17 giving shoppers the chance to buy their medication and order refills on their phones and computers and have it delivered to their doorsteps in a couple of days. 

NEW YORK (AP) — Now at Amazon.com: insulin and inhalers.

The online colossus opened an online pharmacy Tuesday that allows customers to order medication or prescription refills, and have them delivered to the front door in a couple days.

The potential impact of Amazon’s arrival in the pharmaceutical space rippled through that sector immediately. Before the opening bell, Shares of CVS Health Corp. fell almost 7%. Walgreens and Rite Aid tumbled 10%.

The big chains rely on their pharmacies for a steady flow of shoppers that may also grab a snack, or shampoo or groceries on the way out. All major pharmaceutical chains have upped online services, but Amazon. com has mastered it, and its online store is infinitely larger.

Amazon will begin offering commonly prescribed medications Tuesday, including creams, pills, as well as medications that need to stay refrigerated, like insulin. Shoppers have to set up a profile on Amazon’s website and have their doctors send prescriptions there.

Most insurance is accepted, Amazon said. But Prime members who don’t have insurance can also buy generic or brand name drugs from Amazon for a discount.

Amazon has eyed the health care industry for some time. Two years ago, it spent $750 million to buy online pharmacy PillPack, which organizes medication in packets by what time and day they need to be taken. Amazon said that PillPack will continue, focusing on shipping medication to people with chronic conditions.

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