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Amazon intensifies push into Australian pharmacy with trademark application


2020-06-02 09:42:37


Retail giant Amazon has intensified its push into Australia's highly competitive pharmaceuticals sector, brushing off industry opposition with a fresh trademark application for a range of private-label over-the-counter medications.

Amazon filed the application for the 'BasicCare' trademark on Friday and refers to Amazon-branded medication which shoppers can buy directly from the e-commerce giant. The move comes as Amazon faces a fight with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia over a previous application for the trademark 'Amazon Pharmacy', which it filed in January this year.

The guild, which lobbies on behalf of pharmacy owners across the country, has filed an objection with IP Australia arguing the multinational has no right to own the words "Amazon Pharmacy". The group said tight regulation of pharmacy operators meant such a trademark could only be used by trained pharmacists.

"Under Australian state and Territory law, only a pharmacist can own a pharmacy and consumers are entitled to be sure when they deal with a pharmacy that it is a pharmacy and not a business entity purporting to be a pharmacy," a spokesperson for the guild said.

According to a listing with IP Australia, the Pharmacy Guild has until this Thursday to provide grounds for objecting to the trademark registration.

The application for "Amazon Pharmacy" covered the use of the word relating to 10 different classes of goods and services, including a "pharmacy packaging service that aligns, sorts and packages a patient's medications by date and time into individual packets".

Amazon has a pharmacy retail service in the US which it expanded in 2019 after the billion-dollar acquisition of pharmacy startup PillPack. It offers pre-sorted medication packages containing individual daily doses.

Since January, Amazon has filed two more healthcare-related trademarks, BasicCare and Amazon Care, the latter of which is a telehealth and telemedicine service the company is trialling for its employees in Seattle.

Amazon's BasicCare product does not supply prescription medication, and Australian customers can already buy over-the-counter medication through the company's online store. However, a range of Amazon-owned medications would likely come at a lower cost than other branded products, putting pressure on pharmacists and manufacturers. The company's tagline for the product is "basic healthcare ... without having to pay for extras like expensive marketing".

A foray into the $20 billion pharmacy sector by Amazon could upset players such as Chemist Warehouse and ASX-listed Priceline owner Australian Pharmaceutical Industries, which are some of the largest distributors of pharmaceutical products in the country.

Amazon has previously not commented nor made any indication as to what markets outside the US it intends to launch pharmacy services. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on Monday.

Pharmacies across the country have been amping up investment in online deliveries over the past few months, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing many to pivot to delivery and click-and-collect prescription models.

The Department of Health is investigating electronic prescription methods and is set to begin implementing measures to allow for digital prescriptions from the middle of the year.


Author:Dominic Powell and Emma Koehn


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