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Amazon opens online pharmacy, shaking up another industry

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NEW YORK — Now sold on Amazon: insulin and inhalers.

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The company opened an online pharmacy Tuesday, giving Amazon shoppers the chance to buy their medication and order refills on their phones and have it delivered to their doorsteps in a couple of days, just like a book or toilet paper.

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The move propels Amazon into a new business, potentially shaking up the pharmacy industry as it has done to everything from book sellers to toy stores and grocers. Big chains like CVS and Walgreens rely on their pharmacies to bring them a steady flow of shoppers who stop by frequently to pick up their medications.

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Amazon said it will offer commonly prescribed medications starting Tuesday, including creams, pills, as well as medications that need to stay cold, like insulin. Shoppers have to set up a profile on Amazon's website and have doctors send prescriptions to the Seattle-based e-commerce giant.

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Most insurance is accepted, Amazon said. But Prime members who don't have insurance can also buy generic or brand name drugs from Amazon for a discount.

Amazon has eyed the health care industry for some time. Two years ago, it spent $750 million to buy online pharmacy PillPack, which organizes medication in packets by what time and day they need to be taken. Amazon said that PillPack will continue, focusing on shipping medication to people with chronic conditions.

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