Amazon launches virtual healthcare clinic in U.S. for common ailments

FILE PHOTO: Amazon's JFK8 distribution center in Staten Island, New York City

(Corrects paragraph 2 in Nov. 15 story to show Amazon Pharmacy sells only prescription drugs, not over-the-counter drugs)

(Reuters) Inc on Tuesday launched Amazon clinic, a virtual platform where users can connect with healthcare providers to help treat common ailments like allergies and skin conditions.

Amazon has for years sought to expand its presence in healthcare, where it is a small player. It bought online pharmacy PillPack in 2018, underpinning a prescription delivery and price-comparison site it later launched as Amazon Pharmacy, which lets users buy prescription drugs.

Amazon said its new service would operate in 32 states, where customers who seek treatment, will be connected to healthcare providers. The service does not include health insurance and pricing will vary depending on providers, it added.

The online retailer first piloted virtual care visits for its own staff in Seattle in 2019 before offering services to other employers under the Amazon Care brand, which it now plans to close down by the end of this year.

The company is also waiting to close its $3.49 billion deal to buy One Medical, as it seeks to expand its virtual healthcare presence and add brick-and-mortar doctors' offices for the first time.

Shares in Amazon were up about 1% in trading before the bell.

(Reporting by Bharat Govind Gautam, Eva Mathews and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Dhanya Ann Thoppil)