Lilly adds Amazon Pharmacy to LillyDirect DTC channel

Amazon Pharmacy
Amazon Pharmacy

Amazon Pharmacy will provide dispensing for Eli Lilly’s recently launched LillyDirect service, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) telehealth channel that has caused a stir in the US market.

Under the terms of the deal, Amazon Pharmacy will offer home delivery of medications ordered through LillyDirect, which is one of the first examples of a big pharma taking a DTC approach in which a patient’s prescription goes straight to the company, streamlining the supply chain.

Lilly is making a selection of its medicines available through the service, including its new obesity therapy Zepbound (tirzepatide), a move that recognises the importance of DTC channels for medicines that can be subject to reimbursement restrictions.

Some private insurance companies have baulked at providing coverage for obesity drugs, while reimbursement of all weight-loss medicines is currently prohibited under Medicare Part D.

Zepbound is available through the service at a monthly cost of $550, half the $1,060 list price offered to insurers before discounts or rebates and the same price someone without insurance would pay with a Zepbound savings card.

Amazon Pharmacy joins Truepill and Eversana as providers of pharmacy services for the programme, which also covers Lilly’s insulin range for diabetes and migraine therapy Emgality (galcanezumab). LillyDirect also includes telehealth access to doctors provided via partnerships with FORM, 9amHealth, and Cove, as well as a doctor-finding tool.

Dr Vin Gupta, chief medical officer at Amazon Pharmacy, said the company will bring 24/7 access to clinical pharmacists, who will review each incoming prescription for accuracy, appropriateness, and drug interactions and be available to answer patient questions, along with “world-class logistics and supply chain management […] with ongoing tracking updates and access to customer care teams.”

Lilly has said it plans to extend the range of medicines offered through LillyDirect, along with programmes to help patients adhere to therapy.

The company’s chief executive David Ricks said recently that LillyDirect was “born out of the challenges patients face every day in the US,” including getting access to doctors, finding products in pharmacies and accessing savings programmes at the pharmacy counter, and avoiding “illicit copies” of medicines like Zepbound.

“We haven’t thought about it as a way to create some new […] retail distribution business,” he added. “It’s a way to serve the patients that want our medicines better.”

13 March, 2024