Amazon Launches $5 A Month Prescription Drug Scheme As It Leaps Further Into Healthcare


Amazon on Tuesday announced a new prescription drug program giving subscribers as many medications as they need for a flat fee, the online retailer’s latest salvo in its bid to lure customers away from drug stores as big tech players push further into the healthcare sector.

Key Facts

RxPass will allow U.S. Prime members to fill as many prescriptions as they need from a list of more than 50 generic medications and have them delivered free of charge, the online retailer announced.

The service will cost $5 a month on top of a Prime subscription, which currently sits at $14.99 a month or $139 per year excluding sales tax and discounts for students and recipients of government assistance.

Amazon said the service will cover medications used to treat more than 80 common conditions like high blood pressure, anxiety and acid reflux.

The list of medications covered includes the antibiotics amoxicillin and doxycycline, the antifungal nystatin, blood pressure drug losartan and the anti-inflammatory naproxen.

It also includes a series of generic medications used to treat mental health disorders like bipolar, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety, including antidepressants sertraline, venlafaxine, escitalopram and bupropion (respectively sold under brand names Zoloft, Effexor, Lexapro and Wellbutrin) and antipsychotics quetiapine and risperidone (sold under brand names Seroquel and Risperdal).

Erectile dysfunction remedy sildenafil, which is widely known under the brand name Viagra and also used to treat a form of high blood pressure, also made the list, as did finasteride (sold under brand name Propecia) and dutasteride, drugs primarily used to treat enlarged prostates that are also prescribed to combat male hair loss (the FDA has not authorized dutasteride for this purpose but it is prescribed off-label).

Key Background

Amazon has fierce ambitions in healthcare and it has been investing heavily in the sector to make these a reality. The e-commerce giant announced itself as a competitor to brick-and-mortar pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid when it launched its own online pharmacy in 2020. The firm is also expanding into other areas of healthcare, including telehealth, mental health and primary care and is working through a nearly $4 billion deal to acquire healthcare provider One Medical. Amazon is not the only tech giant to start pushing into the health space. Microsoft, Google parent Alphabet and Apple have all got bold visions for healthcare and have been spending billions to realize them.


Amazon says it wants to help Americans save time and money and stay healthy and the retailer is striving to retain Prime customers after putting its prices up last year. The initiative may not help it expand its Prime user base, however, as Amazon already sells a wide range of generic medications through its online pharmacy. Some listed under the scheme—such as folic acid to treat anemia, or blood clotting, biotin to treat skin conditions and glipizide to treat diabetes—cost $2 or less for a 30-day supply. Amazon is also not the only firm to capitalize on cheaper generic drugs either. The firm faces competition from the likes of Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Company, which is selling a wider range of generic drugs without the need to subscribe to a broader service.

Big Number

150 million. That’s how many Americans Amazon estimates take one or more of the medications available through its RxPass scheme.

The Full List

Amazon listed the following drugs as falling under the RxPass scheme.

  • Allopurinol
  • Amlodipine
  • Amoxicillin
  • Atorvastatin
  • Azelastine
  • Benztropine
  • Biotin
  • Bupropion
  • Cephalexin
  • Cyclobenzaprine
  • Cyproheptadine
  • Donepezil
  • Doxazosin
  • Doxepin
  • Doxycycline
  • Dutasteride
  • Escitalopram
  • Estradiol
  • Finasteride
  • Fluticasone
  • Folic Acid
  • Furosemide
  • Glipizide
  • Glyburide
  • Hyoscyamine
  • Lamotrigine
  • Lisinopril
  • Losartan
  • Methimazole
  • Mometasone
  • Naproxen
  • Nystatin
  • Omeprazole
  • Ondansetron
  • Oxybutynin
  • Phenytoin
  • Piroxicam
  • Pramipexole
  • Quetiapine
  • Ramipril
  • Risperidone
  • Rizatriptan
  • Ropinirole
  • Rosuvastatin
  • Sertraline
  • Sildenafil
  • Simvastatin
  • Sotalol
  • Tamoxifen Citrate
  • Terazosin
  • Tizanidine
  • Venlafaxine
  • Vitamin B12

Further Reading

Amazon’s Creep Into Health Care Has Some Experts Spooked (Wired)

Tech companies are still figuring out their healthcare lanes (Verge)

Amazon’s health ambitions sometimes clashed with medical best practices, nurses say (Washington Post)