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It’s been rumored for quite a while now that Amazon plans to establish their own online pharmacy offer, and these rumors are getting more and more serious. Amazon is an internet giant, and for consumers, this can make getting prescriptions much easier, without any need to leave the house. Amazon wouldn’t be the first online pharmacy ever. But Amazon is known for its efficiency. Other online pharmacies, who deal only in delivering pharmaceuticals, may have serious trouble competing with an internet giant like Amazon. If Amazon does program its own online pharmacy efficiently, this could be bad for local pharmacies, such as Walgreens, CVS, and Mom and Pop shops – and possibly even consumers. The industry is already voicing its concerns.
Leyla Hannbeck, the chief pharmacist at the National Pharmacy Association, discusses her worry: “‘The most valuable aspect of community pharmacy is the interaction with the patient…Medicines cannot be compared to other products that you can sell online’”. We believe this statement is very much true. We wonder how Amazon will handle the regulatory and safety aspects involved in the pharmaceutical industry? According to a CNBC news report, Amazon is “hiring a business lead to figure out how the company can break into the multibillion-dollar pharmacy market.” So, we may assume they’ll take care of the regulatory process efficiently, since they are allegedly consulting with expert(s).
But, there’s still another concern. Hannbeck expresses it directly: “There are many benefits of the face-to-face interaction with the patient. There is so much more you get from seeing a patient, understanding their background, and having the opportunity to ask them about other issues they may be having.”
This is a legitimate concern for patients. There’s a degree of trust you have with a pharmacist when you’re speaking with them face to face. Even if Amazon creates a live chat with actual pharmacists on the other end to answer patients’ questions, there may be a degree of trust between patient and pharmacist that becomes lost in translation. This also might be unsettling and confusing for patients who are used to expressing their questions and concerns to one pharmacist. With a huge online pharmacy run by Amazon, they may have to refer different questions regarding their own safety and the medication(s) they’re taking to different pharmacists thousands of miles away. Note: this is just our speculation of how Amazon may handle the matter of answering patient questions.
If this plan comes to fruition, this could change the entire face of the pharmaceutical industry. We’d like to know your thoughts on this matter.