Amazon Pharmacy is a welcome time-saver

The process of getting prescriptions filled is antiquated and inconvenient and outdated in this modern age of online shopping. The doctor first needs to write the prescription and electronically transmit or fax it to a pharmacy that we designate. We then need to check in with the pharmacy to see when it will be ready for pickup. Then we drive to the store, wait in line, sign a few forms and pay. I’m not sure why I tolerated this for years; chock it up to inertia and the resistance of trying something new.

This inertia was tested a few months ago when Walgreen’s, the chain I’ve been using since the beginning of Covid, decided to bow to the anti-abortion lobby and stop offering a variety of legal prescriptions that could terminate a pregnancy.

From March 7, 2023 NY TImes:

The company confirmed late last week that it would not distribute mifepristone, the first pill in a two-drug medication abortion regimen, weeks after it and other large pharmacy chains received letters signed by those attorneys general. In each of the states, abortion is either banned or laws or proposed or pending legislation would prevent pharmacists from dispensing pills.

Like many thousands of their customers, I emailed their CEO and COO to question their decision. I never heard back and decided never to do business with them again.

While their are a number of mail order drug companies, including the Cost Plus Drug Company from Mark Cuban, I went the path of least resistance and, as an Amazon user, signed up for an account with the Amazon Pharmacy. It took about 5 minutes to do – entering your personal information and health insurance information (that Amazon promises to keep confidential according to the HIPPA laws). I then entered my existing perscriptions and requested that that they be transferred from Walgreen’s to them. Their online forms use popup lists of drugs and pharmacies, so it was simply selecting from lists. Less than a day later I received emails telling me that the transfers were complete.

The website is well organized and easy to use, although not as good as Amazon’s online products site. Under each medication is an illustration of the pill, a detailed description of the medication, its side effects and possible interactions.

Even though I have insurance, many of my prescription drugs turned out to be less expensive than I was previously paying using insurance. Often you’ll be given a choice of two costs, one using your insurance and the other a special Amazon Prime cost. Surprisingly, Amazon was usually lower, sometimes by as much as half. By not going through insurance, you don’t face the restriction of having your prescription held up when you’re trying to fill it a week or two early. I’ve often experienced that when trying to fill early before a long trip.

Delivery is free. In all of my orders, prescriptions came by UPS within 2 days from when it was ordered. Each prescription came in a large white plain padded envelope with a booklet of information about the drug.

Are there any disadvantages? A few. You can’t get a prescription immediately, and occasionally a 2-day wait might be undesirable. And you can’t stop into another branch of your drugstore while traveling if you need an emergency supply of one of your prescriptions.

So far it’s been a hassle free experience, much like all my purchases from Amazon. Best of all, no more lines at the pharmacy. My only regret is that I waited so long to do it.

by Phil Baker

2 thoughts on “Amazon Pharmacy is a welcome time-saver

  1. Bill H says:

    Hello, Phil,
    Good summary of +/- factors in amazon Pharm use, I may try it out, but as a (retired) doctor, I have a concern or two, not so much about Amazon specifically as mail order pharmacies. Some medications will be negatively affected if the are exposed to heat, which would be a problem in summer in CA central valley where I live. Then there is issue of potential porch piracy losses if you have no secured area at drop off point. This can be avoided if you are up for paying for a PMB to accept the package, or an Amazon locker delivery, but I wonder if those options would work for controlled substance Rx’s. (They might, for all I know, but there are a lot of screwed up rules around handling scheduled drugs.)

    On a matter more of my personal views, I absolutely agree with attempts to shame and penalize the religio-political cave by Walgreens. I am no longer living there, so my influence has waned/ evaporated, but I used to try to steer patients to use our local Walgreens as they were the only 24 hour pharmacy for a long radius, and I wanted them to continue offering the service, but after their craven behavior, I would probably just tell patients to get sick by day and go to CVS or whatever. If you can’t trust a pharmacist to act in your best interests, because of the pseudoreligious dictates of a sect you aren’t an adherent of, and which the CEO of Walgreens is likely not a member of either, then you probably shouldn’t trust them with your needs for greeting cards, snack foods, plastic gimcracks or deodorant either.

    • Phil Baker says:

      Thanks Bill for your comments. With UPS delivery you are given options for delivery that may mitigate porch piracy. Each perscription has been delivered in a plain white bubble envelope rather than a box, minimizing it’s perceived value. I used to use CVS until they insisted in in-store pickup during Covid.

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