Amazon is adding a prescription drug discount program to its growing health care business.
The retail giant said Tuesday that it will launch RxPass, a subscription service for customers who have Prime memberships. Amazon said people will pay $5 a month to fill as many prescriptions as they need from a list of about 50 generic medications, which are generally cheaper versions of brand-name drugs.
The company said the flat fee could cover a list of medications like the antibiotic amoxicillin and the anti-inflammatory drug naproxen. Sildenafil also made the list. It’s used to treat erectile dysfunction under the brand name Viagra and also treats a form of high blood pressure.
Amazon said Prime members who participate in the program can get discounts of up to 80% off generic medications and 40% off brand-name drugs at more than 60,000 pharmacies around the U.S. Most health insurance programs are accepted, the company noted.
“Any customer who pays more than $10 a month for their eligible medications will see their prescription costs drop by 50% or more, plus they save time by skipping a trip to the pharmacy,” John Love, vice president of Amazon Pharmacy said in a statement about the new program.
Prime members can sign up for RxPass by Prime members at Amazon.com or on Amazon’s mobile app.
Amazon sells a range of generic drugs through its pharmacy service. Some already cost as liitle as $1 for a 30-day supply, so the benefit of this new program will vary by customer.
The program doesn’t use insurance, and people with government-funded Medicaid or Medicare coverage are not eligible. It will be available in 42 states and Washington, D.C. at launch.
Any program that gets low-cost generic drugs to more patients “is a good thing,” said Karen Van Nuys, an economist who studies drug pricing at the University of Southern California. But she added that she wasn’t sure how much of an impact RxPass will have. She noted that the program is limited to Amazon Prime customers. Other options like the Mark Cuban CostPlus Drug Co. sell more generic drugs, many for under $5.
“I just don’t know that it’s expanding access to a new set of patients,” Van Nuys said.
Still, the move could help the company…