E-commerce and technology giant Amazon has applied for a UK trademark for the term Amazon Pharmacy.
On 9 January 2020, the company lodged two applications with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) for the trademark that would be linked to the provision of pharmaceuticals, medical and veterinary preparations, online pharmacy retail, the delivery of prescription medications and other services.
The applications come six months after the company acquired the US online pharmacy PillPack, which operates in 49 US states.
In a statement, a spokesperson for PillPack told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “I can confirm that we’ve filed trademark applications for Amazon Pharmacy in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, UK, [the] EU, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Singapore, China, Japan, Taiwan, India, Australia, and Israel.
“We are always considering ways to delight customers in every market we serve. At present, our focus is on growing PillPack and offering a better pharmacy experience for customers in the United States.”
Sandra Gidley, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), described the move as a “worrying development”.
“I think it’s a question of ‘watch this space’,” she said.
The government’s commitment in the Queen’s Speech on 19 December 2019 to introduce novel methods of dispensing medicines added more anxiety, she said.
“We will be monitoring the situation very closely and promoting the fact that there is no substitute with face-to-face interaction between a pharmacist and a patient. We will do all we can to make sure that Amazon is not allowed to dominate the pharmacy market.”
A spokesperson for the IPO explained that the trademark was in the first stage of being examined — the first step in the process of achieving approval.
They could not say how long the process might take and, if Amazon was successful, when it could operate according to the trademark terms in the UK.
The spokesperson explained: “That is down to Amazon — you do not have to register a mark to use it. The registration of a mark by an applicant provides the right to stop others from using that mark (if registered).”
Currently, Amazon offers its UK users access to a range of over-the-counter pharmacy products, such as nicotine replacement therapies, skin and dental hygiene products and vitamins.
In July 2019, the NHS announced a partnership with Amazon’s voice-assisted technology, ‘Alexa’, to provide healthcare information from the NHS website.