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Amazon just announced its new Instant Pickup points for shoppers to retrieve their items minutes after ordering them.
Many have speculated that the service offers a new way for Amazon to encourage users to make impulse purchases. But according to one health expert, the service also presents a new way for Amazon shoppers to get medicines needed for acute health problems.
People who urgently require treatment, such as an antibiotic for an infection, could theoretically have their doctor send in an electronic prescription and then they could drive to a nearby Amazon pickup point to grab their meds within minutes.
At least, that's according to pharmacy expert Stephen Buck, who previously co-founded GoodRx, a company that offers discounts on prescription drugs.
"I could see the medication getting there before the patient even leaves the doctor's office parking lot," said Buck. "The process could be very efficient and potentially reduce costs."
One of the challenges for Amazon, Buck suggested, is that regulations require a pharmacist be present to explain usage and potential side effects associated with the drug. A potential way around that, he suggested, could be regulatory changes, or a telemedicine service for pharmacists to weigh in via an app.
For that reason, some in the pharmaceutical industry believe that Amazon, which already sells medical supplies, will ultimately refrain from selling prescription meds — at least for now.