COVID-19

Costco and Instacart expand deliveries to include prescription drugs

Kristin Schwab Apr 20, 2020
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About 90% of prescriptions are filled in person. Will the pandemic change that? Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
COVID-19

Costco and Instacart expand deliveries to include prescription drugs

Kristin Schwab Apr 20, 2020
About 90% of prescriptions are filled in person. Will the pandemic change that? Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Demand for delivery is high during COVID-19, and not just for groceries. Costco and Instacart are expanding their partnership to include prescription drug delivery in seven states, plus Washington, D.C.

“Look we’re living in the COVID-19 world,” said Bunny Ellerin, director of the health care and pharmaceutical management program at Columbia University. “And it’s virtually impossible for many people to get to a Costco.”

Costco isn’t always the most convenient pharmacy. It has less than 800 stores in the U.S., while CVS and Walgreens have around 10,000 each. Costco doesn’t want to lose existing customers to independent drugstores and chains, and it could grab new ones with the convenience of Instacart.

“Large chain pharmacies are under attack from a number of directions,” said Adam Fein, CEO of Drug Channels Institute.

Amazon has its own service, PillPack. And startups like Capsule are growing.

But Fein says the coronavirus won’t change the industry overnight. Around 90% of prescription purchases are filled in person. That’s in Costco’s best interest once things go back to normal, because you could walk in for a prescription and walk out with a big screen TV.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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