Eli Lilly taps Amazon Pharmacy to help deliver Zepbound, other drugs

Close-up of a hand holding a cellphone displaying the Amazon Pharmacy system, Lafayette, California, September 15, 2021. 

Smith Collection | Gado | Getty Images

Eli Lilly on Wednesday said Amazon Pharmacy will help send certain prescription drugs, including the red-hot weight loss treatment Zepbound, to patients’ homes through the drugmaker’s new direct-to-consumer program

Starting Wednesday, Amazon Pharmacy can deliver certain drugs from Eli Lilly that are prescribed for obesity, diabetes or migraine to patients who order them from the drugmaker’s direct sales website, according to an email from Eli Lilly. It is the second online pharmacy to partner with Eli Lilly’s platform, and can provide two-day deliveries to certain patients.

The website, LillyDirect, connects people with an independent telehealth company that can prescribe certain drugs if they are eligible. The site also offers a home-delivery option if the prescribed treatment is Eli Lilly’s, tapping a third-party online pharmacy to fill prescriptions and send them directly to patients. 

LillyDirect, which launched in January, aims to make Zepbound and other drugs easier for patients to access. It eliminates the need to go in person to the doctor for a prescription and, in some cases, to a pharmacy to fill it.

The site is one of several ways companies are moving to disrupt the complex system for distributing, pricing and prescribing drugs in the U.S., in part as they face more political pressure to cut consumer costs. 

The new partnership with Amazon comes as the popularity of Zepbound and other weight loss drugs soars because of their ability to help patients lose significant weight over time. But Eli Lilly has struggled to meet demand, and many of those drugs have faced intermittent shortages over the last year.

Eli Lilly has not said how many patients have used LillyDirect so far. But in an email on Tuesday, the company said it has seen “significant interest in the platform.” LillyDirect plans to expand the medicines it offers and the companies it partners with in the future, Eli Lilly said.

Amazon Pharmacy offers free two-day deliveries to patients with an Amazon Prime membership, which will also apply if they use LillyDirect.

“I think it’s a wonderful advantage,” Frank Cunningham, Eli Lilly’s senior vice president of global value and access, said of Amazon’s two-day delivery option during an interview. “The goal is to have a fantastic customer experience where the product gets to them as soon as possible.”

Cunningham did not disclose how many days it typically takes for the site’s other pharmacy partner – digital health startup Truepill – to deliver medicines to patients. But he told CNBC that Eli Lilly expects Amazon Pharmacy and Truepill to have similar processing and shipping times.

Truepill CEO Paul Greenall told CNBC in a statement on Wednesday that the pharmacy has been providing overnight deliveries since the launch of LillyDirect.

Amazon Pharmacy Vice President John Love…

Read More: Eli Lilly taps Amazon Pharmacy to help deliver Zepbound, other drugs

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