Amazon Launches New Online Pharmacy Service

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. prescription medicine / prɪˈskrɪp ʃən ˈmɛd ə sɪn / (n) – a type of drug that cannot be bought without a doctor’s written advice

    You can’t easily buy antibiotics because they are prescription medicines.

  2. name-brand / ˈneɪmˌbrænd / (adj) – describing something that is made by a well-known company

    Celebrities often wear name-brand clothes in public.

  3. novel / ˈnɒv əl / (adj) – new or original

    The company’s novel marketing idea led to its product’s success.

  4. round-the-clock / ˈraʊnd ðəˈklɒk / (adj) – available or happening day and night

    The security agency promised round-the-clock protection with its high-tech equipment.

  5. venture / ˈvɛn tʃər / (v) – to start or do something risky

    I was almost 40 when I decided to venture into a new career.


Read the text below.

Online retailer Amazon has recently launched Amazon Pharmacy, a service where customers can order prescription medicines online.

Amazon Pharmacy has a wide selection of generic and name-brand drugs, but it does not sell medications that are potentially addictive. The service promises to deliver orders within five days, but Amazon Prime members can receive their orders within just two days.

To use the service, customers need to create a profile with details about their health and medical history, including past and current prescriptions. Amazon can check if prescriptions are legitimate to avoid fraudulent transactions. Currently, the service is only available in 45 US states, but it will be expanded in the future to cover the whole country.

While online pharmacies are not novel, Amazon Pharmacy has a lot of unique features. For one, it can automatically find users’ insurance information when they register. It also gives customers the option to customize the packaging of their medicines, such as adding reminders of what time the drugs need to be taken.

The pharmacy also offers round-the-clock online or phone consultation services with pharmacists. Additionally, Amazon protects its customers by informing them about possible adverse reactions from the drugs that they are taking.

Doug Herrington, an executive at Amazon, said that venturing into the pharmacy industry is a good move for the company as more people are doing errands from home.

Data show that the US pharmacy industry has been growing at a rate of 3% annually, primarily due to the increase in online stores and home delivery options. Currently, the industry is valued at $312 billion.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What do you think are the advantages of using services like Amazon Pharmacy? Explain.
• What do you think are the possible risks of online pharmacies (e.g. possibility of drug misuse, lack of medical advice, etc.)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What other types of shops that are currently offline do you think should also offer online shopping and delivery services? Discuss.
• What types of shops or services do you think should remain face-to-face? Why?