The Battle for Patient Data Access Begins: Amazon Versus Surescripts

by on Jul 30, 2019

Prescription DrugsThe pharmacy industry is shifting focus to e-commerce as disruptors like PillPack make better pricing transparency and convenient delivery services available to consumers. PillPack, the full-service online pharmacy Amazon acquired last year, uses comprehensive data to access patients’ medication lists, complete refills and uncover duplicate prescriptions. The combination of Amazon’s e-commerce success and the convenience of PillPack’s services adds to the growing competition between industry leaders for majority share of the e-prescription market.

Amazon is threatening to sue Surescripts, an e-prescribing company that plans on cutting PillPack’s access to patient health data via third-party entity ReMyHealth. Without patient data access, PillPack’s pharmacy delivery services would suffer greatly. Access to consumer information is important for e-commerce success and, with Amazon’s strong market presence, many competitors are vying for an opportunity to hinder the company’s dominance.

Owned by major competitors Express Scripts and CVS, Surescripts manages about 80% of U.S. prescriptions. PillPack has the potential to disrupt this percentage due to its direct, consumer-driven prescription medication delivery services. If Surescripts continues to supply patient data to PillPack, CVS and Express Scripts would indirectly facilitate the growth of a business owned by Amazon, one of their greatest competitors.

If Amazon follows through with its threat, Surescripts would simultaneously have to deal with an existing antitrust lawsuit. In April, the FTC sued Surescripts, accusing the company of illegal monopolization of e-prescription markets. Through this lawsuit, the FTC seeks to restore competition to the e-prescription industry. However, Surescripts’s plan to cut PillPack’s patient data access would minimize competition.

While PillPack’s access to patient data is critical for the business’s success, it is still unclear if it will follow through with its claim against Surescripts, since it runs the risk of subjecting Amazon’s much larger retail business to criticism for keeping its own customer data highly private.

Patient data access will become a critical component of companies’ success as the pharmacy industry continues to address better ways to manage healthcare needs. And while it is unknown whether Amazon will go to court, the threat of a lawsuit shows the potential disputes that may occur in the future for control over patient data.