Amazon Discount Drugs Program to Launch

Amazon continued its road into healthcare when it created a discount drug program for Prime members. The program is a subscription service that allows Prime members to fill as many prescriptions as needed for $5 per month. The prescriptions are, of course, delivered to their doorstep.

Amazon already sells discounted drugs through its Amazon Pharmacy. The costs vary, but some of the medications sell for as little as $1 per month. Insurance is not accepted with these Amazon discount plans. Amazon has several other ventures in health care including Amazon Clinic which is a virtual marketplace for telemedicine. Time will tell if Amazon discount drugs will be lucrative for the tech and retail giant.



Telehealth Challenges May Be Ahead

Once the emergency declaration for Covid-19 expires on May 11, telehealth patients may have a harder time seeking treatment and prescriptions for controlled substances. Under the emergency order, healthcare providers could waive the in-person visit requirement for those patients who need drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, and benzodiazepines. As this expires, that waiver could end.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has said it will unveil new proposals regarding telemedicine to answer some of these questions. The concern is that patients who are currently seeing providers and receiving prescriptions through telehealth could end up without their medications. Stopping medications suddenly is often not recommended. Lawmakers are calling on the DEA to have a plan to ensure continuity of care for patients.

Source: Washington Post


Consolidated Health Systems – Are They Working?

A recent study by Harvard showed that consolidated health systems, including hospital mergers and practice acquisitions, delivered slightly better care, but at significantly higher prices. Proponents of consolidated health systems claimed that economies of scale would offer better care and lower prices, however, economies of scale don’t seem to have the desired effect on prices.

The study from Harvard University and the National Bureau of Economic Research is the most comprehensive study to date on consolidated health systems. The research looked at 580 consolidated health systems and discovered that it costs 31% more at these facilities compared to private care providers. Additionally, physicians in these systems charge 12-26% higher prices than in private practices.



CVS and Optum Leave Sick Patients Panicked

CVS Health and Optum RX announced they would be radically reducing services for the home parenteral nutrition (HPN) market. HPN patients rely on IV nutrients for a variety of conditions including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, shortened intestines, premature infants, damaged bowels, and more.

CVS and Optum are refocusing more on more lucrative IV drugs for arthritis and other autoimmune disorders. Aside from the corporate decisions to reduce HPN services, other factors including a rise in the concierge IV market, Covid-19 disruption and more have also affected supply over the past several years. The HPN market has low-profit margins and slower pay cycles, which prompted the switch.

Source: Kaiser Health News


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