How digital pharmacies are competing with CVS, Walgreens

Digital pharmacy startups own less than 1 percent of the pharmacy market share by revenue or prescriptions filled. However, they could become meaningful players in the industry if they pursue the right innovations, according to a July 7 Bloomberg report.

The pharmacy industry "hasn’t had any meaningful innovation for the last 50 to 100 years," according to Eric Kinariwala, founder and CEO of digital pharmacy Capsule. The features that his company and other digital pharmacies offer benefit mainly patients, as such services allow them to track prescriptions, find discounts, ask questions and schedule home deliveries.

The most common motivation for using digital pharmacies is to save money on prescriptions, as most digital pharmacy startups often help users compare the price of the medication at different pharmacies and find discounts. Users are also often motivated by convenience, as digital pharmacies allow them to skip the trip to the pharmacy and avoid long lines.

Since January 2020, three startups — Capsule, Alto and Medly — have raised more than $650 million.

Alto and Medly take a specific approach to innovation in the pharmacy space, as their services help patients manage their specialty medication regimes. Medly is also looking into selling anonymous patient data to drugmakers, as it could help them better understand side effects, insurance coverage, which drugs have been beneficial for patients and how regularly drugs are being taken.

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