Amazon vs. Walmart – Do the Savings Stack Up?

Back in June, we saw reports, such as the one in Chain Store Age, that Walmart and Amazon were beginning competition in the prescription discount program space.  Amazon’s offering is through its Prime subscription service and Walmart’s through its Walmart + subscription service.

Walmart touts that some select medications will be available at a zero cost, while many others will be discounted up to 85%.  Walmart charges $98 per year or $12.95 per month for Walmart + membership.  This compares to $119 per year or $12.99 per month for Amazon Prime membership.  However, a Bloomberg article points out that Amazon is providing some six-month prescriptions starting at $6.00.  The $1 per month pricing may be attractive, but the concept of discounted prices for bulk purchases of generics is not an invention by Amazon.  This is a method to avoid invoking U&C on 30- or 90-day supplies because the discounted price is only available at the 180-day quantity. Also, it is not known yet if Amazon will run into issues in states where prescriptions cannot be sold at a price below acquisition cost.

PHSL looked at two commonly prescribed generic medications to compare the savings.  The zip code of PHSL’s office (15237) was used to identify the Walmart seven miles away that would fill the prescription and provide the savings.  On the other hand, Amazon Pharmacy provides free two-day delivery.

The first example is Metformin 500 mg, 60 tablets.  The Walmart + price was $3.00 using a savings card, compared to Amazon’s $3.50 Prime member price.  Prime also offers discounts through other pharmacy retailers such as CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Costco and other regional chains, supermarkets, or mass merchants.  Those discounted prices ranged from $6.48 to $15.54.  PHSL also checked GoodRx, which does not require a membership, and found they offered discounted prices from $4.00 (at Walmart) to $13.82 using a free coupon for the retailer selected by the user.

The second example is Atorvastatin 20 mg, 30 tablets.  The Amazon Prime member price was $14.90 compared to the Walmart + price of $15, again using a savings card.  The Prime discounted prices at the pharmacy retailers mentioned above ranged from $6.98 to $61.45.  GoodRx discounted prices ranged from $8.18 to $19.95, which included $15 at Walmart.

Lastly, PHSL looked at one commonly prescribed brand medication that is not available generically – Eliquis 5 mg, 60 tablets.  The Amazon Prime member price was $509.80 compared to the Walmart + price of $510.05, again using a savings card.  The Prime discounted prices at the pharmacy retailers mentioned above ranged from $510.46 to $551.88 (at Walmart) – most were $511.46.  GoodRx discounted prices ranged from $493.19 to $531.03.

What’s more interesting is that Metformin 500 mg, 360 tablets was priced $18.50 by Amazon Prime and $13 by Walmart +, and as low as $15.81 using a GoodRx free discount at Kroger.  Checking Atorvastatin 20 mg, 180 tablets, it was priced $86.90 by Amazon Prime and $76 by Walmart +, but as low as $16.70 using a GoodRx coupon at Kroger.

Of course, the Amazon Prime and Walmart + memberships offer much more than discounted prescription prices.  However, it appears that joining these programs solely for prescription savings may not be the best idea, seeing how other free on-line services are just as competitive, if not less expensive, than the discounted prices offered by the subscription services.

 

Drug and Quantity Pricing Plan Patient Price
Metformin 500mg:
60 Tablets
Walmart + Pricing $3.00
Amazon Prime Pricing $3.50
Amazon Prime Pricing (Other Rx Retailers) $6.48 – $15.54
GoodRx Pricing $4.00 – $13.82
GoodRx Pricing (Walmart) $4.00
Atorvastatin 20mg:
30 Tablets
Walmart + Pricing $15.00
Amazon Prime Pricing $14.90
Amazon Prime Pricing (Other Rx Retailers) $6.98 – $61.45
GoodRx Pricing $8.18 – $19.95
GoodRx Pricing (Walmart) $15.00
Eliquis 5mg:
60 Tablets
Walmart + Pricing $510.05
Amazon Prime Pricing $509.80
Amazon Prime Pricing (Other Rx Retailers) $510.46 – $551.88
Amazon Prime Pricing (Walmart) $551.88
GoodRx Pricing $493.19 – $531.03
Metformin 500mg:
360 Tablets
Walmart + Pricing $13
Amazon Prime Pricing $18.50
GoodRx Pricing $15.81
Atorvastatin 20mg:
180 Tablets
Walmart + Pricing $76
Amazon Prime Pricing $86.90
GoodRx Pricing $16.70

 

 

Posted: September 2021

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