E-commerce giant Amazon has announced it will launch a program to cut prices on some prescription drugs as part of its growing health business. The subscription service will be called “RxPass”, and customers who have a membership in the Amazon Prime club will be able to access it, the Associated Press reported.
Users of the new service will pay a monthly fee of $5, which will allow them to order as many prescription drugs as they need from a list of about 50 generic drugs, which are usually cheaper versions of original pharmaceuticals.
According to Amazon, the flat fee can cover a list of drugs that include the antibiotic amoxicillin and the anti-inflammatory drug naproxen. Sildenafil, used to treat erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension, also falls on the list.
The American company already sells a range of generic drugs through its “digital pharmacy”. Some cost as little as $1, with a 30-day delivery time.
The service does not use the coverage of the Medicaid and Medicare health insurance programs, so people with coverage under them are not eligible.
At launch, ArexPass will be available in 42 US states, as well as in Washington, DC.
Any program that provides cheap 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. However, it is not clear how big the impact of the new service will be.
Other companies that provide similar services, such as Mark Cuban CostPlus Drug Co., sell more generic drugs, usually for far less than $5.
“I just don’t know if it expands access to new patients,” she added.
Still, the move could help Amazon capture a larger share of the healthcare market. The company said its online drugstore Amazon Pharmacy is a key part of its healthcare plans, along with primary care organization One Medical, which the online giant aims to acquired for $3.9 billion.
In November, the company also announced that it would launch Amazon Clinic, a service to quickly connect patients with doctors.