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Amazon and Walmart are competing to offer you the cheapest prescriptions, and it could shake up the entire pharmacy industry

Published by Business Insider on Wed, 09 Jun 2021

<p><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5fb413b51c741f0019aca38a-1920/2020-11-17T170723Z1LYNXMPEGAG1EKRTROPTP4AMAZON-COM-PHARMACY.JPG" border="0" alt="Amazon Pharmacy" data-mce-source="Amazon/Handout via Reuters" data-link="https://www.reutersconnect.com/all'id=tag%3Areuters.com%2C2020%3Anewsml_RC245K9QKNLL%3A150712033&amp;search=all%3Aamazon"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>Amazon and Walmart are engaged in a fierce competition to offer the cheapest prescriptions to members of their subscription programs, a price war that could benefit consumers and harm rival pharmacies.</p><p>Members of Amazon's Prime program can now get certain drugs for as little as $1 a month for a six-months supply. <a href="https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2021/06/07/walmart-adds-savings-on-prescriptions-to-growing-suite-of-benefits">Walmart this week announced</a> discounts for delivery subscription members on commonly prescribed drugs, ranging from zero cost to 85% price reductions.&nbsp;</p><p>The retail titans' race to slash drug costs threatens traditional pharmacies like CVS Health, big box competitors and online discounters like GoodRx, Morgan Stanley analysts said in a research note on Wednesday. Long term, the competition could change the way health insurance plans cover generic drugs, the analyst said.</p><p>It's also just the latest instance of <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-walmarts-memd-growing-healthcare-ventures-2021-5">Walmart and Amazon facing off in healthcare.</a> In 2019, the two companies launched primary care clinics within weeks of each other. Walmart's recent acquisition of telehealth company MeMD and its <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-health-is-gearing-up-to-offer-telehealth-across-the-country-2021-6">plans to offer telehealth services in more than a dozen states</a> directly challenge Amazon's growing virtual offerings.&nbsp;</p><p>Amazon's plans in healthcare reach far beyond just telehealth and drug delivery. The company is also <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/exclusive-amazon-pharmacy-considering-physical-stores-2021-5">considering building out physical retail pharmacies</a>, as Insider has reported, and has recently <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-care-just-signed-its-first-enterprise-customer-precor-2021-5">ramped up Amazon Care</a>, its medical-care business.</p><h2><strong>Traditional pharmacies could lose out</strong></h2><p>For now, Amazon's new discounts are limited to just 12 drugs, though that includes frequently prescribed medications for chronic conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Walmart hasn't disclosed its full list of drug discounts.</p><p>The analysts estimated it could cost traditional pharmacies a total of roughly $660 million a year to match Amazon's discounts.</p><p>Competitors will likely need to quickly diversify, reevaluate their physical spaces and ramp up their digital strategies, the analysts wrote.</p><p>Amazon's lower pricing also targets online prescription-discount site GoodRx: For a 6-month supply of 10 of the 12 listed drugs, Amazon offers better deals than GoodRx. For a 30-day supply, GoodRx tends to have better pricing, though the longer-term deals reflect the company's broader retail strategy focused on buying medication in bulk. Walmart's discounts are typically for 30-day prescriptions.</p><p>For some drugs, Amazon and Walmart's deals could be cheaper than paying through insurance, analysts wrote.&nbsp; That could push pharmacy benefit models toward covering only more costly drugs, leaving generic drugs to be paid for out of pocket.</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-walmart-prescription-drug-costs-shakes-up-pharmacies-2021-6#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/why-everyone-hates-moist-2018-5">Why 'moist' is one of the most hated words in the English language</a></p>
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