When Amazon acquired PillPack in 2018, most pharmacy owners did not know how it would change the industry. Adherence pouch packaging was just starting to gain recognition, and many pharmacists did not see Amazon as a viable threat.
Fast forward two years later, and PillPack has grown to be more of a household name. Community pharmacies across the country have lost patients to the mail-order giant, which has encouraged pharmacy owners to invest in pouch packaging automation, like the RapidPakRx.
Now, Amazon announced the launch of Amazon Pharmacy this year -- an online pharmacy service. Amazon Pharmacy patients will be able to order all their medications through the website, and will reportedly have access to discounted generic medications. Amazon Pharmacy is different from PillPack, because it will function as a regular pharmacy -- just entirely online. PillPack is limited to pouch packaging services, for now.
The Price of Drugs
Across America, patients are struggling to pay for their medications. Drug prices have significantly increased in recent years, making it even more difficult for patients to remain adherent. Some patients report rationing their medications, or skipping doses altogether to avoid having to purchase their next prescription.
Amazon Pharmacy is exploiting this stressor by promising patients discounted generic medication. Patients will be allowed to compare the price of their medications with and without insurance.
For a community pharmacy looking to compete, finding ways to minimize patients’ costs for patients can be a good strategy to compete against the low drug prices that Amazon Pharmacy offers. Services like free pouch packaging and delivery can help an independent pharmacy retain more patients.
Patient Demand is Constantly Evolving
The service patients expected from their local pharmacy 25 years ago is not the same as what they expect today.
Understanding the evolving needs of patients can help pharmacies succeed.
So how does Amazon Pharmacy meet their needs?
First and foremost, Amazon Pharmacy offers patients convenience. Patients can order their prescriptions without ever leaving the comfort of their homes. With more patients staying at home because of the pandemic, this added convenience is a bigger benefit. Amazon Pharmacy also offers free home delivery. With convenience being the primary factor, patients like the value that Amazon Pharmacy offers.
Of course, independent pharmacies can offer the same, if not better, convenience by offering adherence pouch packaging and home delivery services. Not only can independent pharmacies offer convenience, but they can also offer in-store pickup and drive-thru options to help patients improve their health.
“We're seeing a lot of transfers from competitors like the chain pharmacies because patients are not getting the service that they need and deserve,” says Chandra Patel, owner of Heritage Pharmacy. “We differentiate our pharmacy from our competitors by offering several unique services, such as compliance packaging, and free delivery service.”
We get it. The launch of Amazon Pharmacy can feel intimidating.
But, if there is one thing we’ve learned since the acquisition of PillPack by Amazon, it’s that independent pharmacies can offer something that mail-order giants can’t.
Personalized healthcare service.
One of the common concerns expressed by mail-order patients is the lack of transparency and care that they receive from mail-order firms. If they need to change a prescription or report a mistake, they have to wait on the phone to speak with a representative. After waiting on the phone to talk to someone about their prescription, they must wait several days or even weeks for their prescription to be fixed and mailed to them.
After losing a patient to PillPack, the staff at Hines Prescription Shop knew that they had to make a change.“Since installing the RapidPakRx, we're able to keep patients in house and they love it,” says Tyler Young, pharmacist at Hines Prescription Shop. “They can get their medications packaged here instead of reaching out to a mail order pharmacy that they don't have any personal connection with.”
An independent pharmacist can quickly assess a patient’s concern, evaluate their health needs, and provide a solution without having the patient wait several days. When a patient has questions regarding medications, the local pharmacists can spend time reassuring the patient.
Investing in Technology for Your Pharmacy’s Future
Amazon is not the only multibillion-dollar corporation entering the pharmacy industry. In October, DivvyDose was acquired for approximately $300 million by a PBM parent company.
What does this mean for independent pharmacy owners?
Adherence pouch packaging is a thriving industry -- and the giants have taken notice. It is important to offer an adherence pouch packaging service in your area, before PillPack and DivvyDose target your community. Being the first to offer pouch packaging in your area will help patients identify you as their “go-to” adherence pharmacy option.
“Now that we have the RapidPakRx, we're really cutting edge with our technology,” says Cynthia Feldman, owner of Sweetgrass Pharmacy. “We're able to compete with Amazon Pillpack because it really puts us in the forefront of our patients’ thinking.”
A great system to help your pharmacy get started is the RapidPakRx, an adherence pouch packaging solution. The RapidPakRx has an all-in-one design, making it easy to fit into small spaces. Using the system, a single technician can complete packaging for up to 50 patients in one, 8-hour shift.
“Adherence packaging is a growing trend in pharmacy,” says Shane Becker, owner of Old Town Pharmacy. “ It's very important that your pharmacy can keep up with that technology and the RapidPakRx really allows you to do that.”
If you would like to learn more about the RapidPakRx, please visit our product page or talk to an adherence expert at (877) 797-2332.