Coronavirus Impact: Shelter-at-home boosts demand for prescription drug deliveries

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As we shelter in place due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, more people are depending on home delivery of food and necessities. Competition is now growing for home delivery of prescriptions.

An estimated two-thirds of all Americans take at least one prescription drug. But going to the pharmacy can be a problem for those at-risk.

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The timing couldn't have been better as a pharmacy called NowRx is expanding in the Bay Area.

It doesn't have any stores. Instead, it makes home deliveries for free. In the past month, it has seen a 30 percent increase in orders.

It's able to offer free delivery by using centralized dispensaries in San Jose and Mountain View where the use of robotics boosts efficiency while reducing the cost of staffing.

There are 30 registered pharmacists, assistants and technicians. Plus 25 drivers who make deliveries from Daly City to San Jose. The five-year-old company has instituted safety protocols every step along the way.

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"Our drivers wear masks and gloves," said NowRx CEO Cary Breese.

"The're wiping down their cars and all surfaces in between deliveries and shifts. We're also following similar procedures inside our pharmacy facilities," he said.

While major drug store chains are now starting to offer free delivery, NowRx has relied on recommendations from physicians who recognize who among their patients need home delivery.

The company also tracks discounts and special offers from drug makers, applying deals automatically.

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San Jose customer Linda Rothwell appreciates the personal notifications and delivery security.

"They give you an ETA when they're going to be here with delivery with your products, and then they knock on your door or give you a jingle," she said. "When they leave it on your doorstep, they take a picture so they can show they have dropped it off."

Same day delivery is free. One-hour delivery is offered for $5 for urgent care needs, such as antibiotics or pain drugs. Consultations with a pharmacist also are available in line with state regulations.

"We feel like our pharmacists, since they're not having to deal with patients standing at a counter eight people deep, our pharmacists are actually more available for consultations," said Breese.

NowRx soon will be expanding free delivery to San Francisco from a new facility in Burlingame. It also operates in Orange County with plans to launch in Phoenix and other cities.

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