Amazon Pharmacy launches; SWFL pharmacist says don’t count them out

Eufemia Didonato


WINK NEWS

Many people would likely agree the prices for prescription medications are too high. A potentially affordable option is making itself available to people near and far and could make filling your prescriptions a bit easier.

Amazon has officially entered the pharmacy game, and it’s delivering prescriptions to Amazon Prime members with two-day delivery.

Amazon says, without Prime, its prices with insurance, “should be similar to those at any retail pharmacy.” With Prime, drugs and prescriptions available through Amazon Pharmacy could be anywhere from 40% to 80% off.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Pharmacist Sam Patel said. “I was ready, at one point they were going to come out and launch this service.”

Patel, who owns Carrell Pharmacy in Fort Myers, says he’s not worried. He says Amazon could be some steep competition for traditional retail pharmacies, but as a small business, he offers something big box stores don’t.

“We know all of our customers by their name … We know their drugs, we know where they live, what their families do,” Patel said. “You cannot buy the personalized service.”

Amazon is pushing convenience with 24/7 help, free “PillPacks” for daily doses and extra perks for Prime members that includes the two-day shipping and member savings.

Patel says low prices and customer service are his specialties, and he offers free daily dose packs and same-day or next-day delivery too, and no special membership is required.

“Cost, convenience and customer service,” Patel said. “And we’re just gonna stick with our basics, no change at all.”

Amazon lets customers type in just about any drug and look up the price they would pay, with or without insurance.

For example, a 30-day supply of the generic version of Lipitor, a common cholesterol drug, is listed at $86.10 without insurance. Prime members could get 85% off.

Amazon won’t prescribe opioids though, and Patel says that could make things difficult for people who take those along with other medications.

“Because any pharmacy would like to fill all of their medicine at one place because so they can check the drug interaction,” Patel said. “A lot of pharmacies will not only fill controlled prescriptions because of certain government restrictions.”

Patel says he’s concerned about how Amazon will transport medicine and how responsive they’ll be to customers. He also hopes customers will opt to support small businesses first.

“We can beat them in prices every day, anytime,” Patel said.


If you have a crazy story about the cost of prescriptions drugs, or maybe your own tricks to save, email them to us at [email protected].

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