Why I ditched Walgreens for this pharmacy app



Get medication delivered to your entrance door.


Shopping for pharmaceuticals on-line would not have a superb repute. The truth is, on-line pharmacies have raised security considerations for so long as they have been round. So think about my hesitation when a brand new dermatologist referred me to Alto, a full-service pharmacy in an app that delivers medication to my entrance door.

Regardless of being a millennial who will readily order meals from an app, I used to be skeptical and untrusting of getting drugs by my telephone. That’s, till I lastly tried it.

I have been utilizing Alto now for a couple of months, and I hope to by no means have to return to an in-person pharmacy ever once more. Learn on to seek out out why.


Alto reveals your whole lively prescriptions, and what number of refills are left.

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

What’s Alto?

Alto’s app lets you handle and fill your prescriptions, after which get them delivered to you. It’s presently accessible within the San Francisco Bay Space and the Higher Los Angeles space. There are additionally three bodily areas — one in San Francisco, Culver Metropolis and Irvine — the place you may decide up drugs.

Alto makes use of machines to automate the method of filling prescriptions. The primary is “Hazel,” a shelling out machine that holds 188 of essentially the most generally distributed drugs.

The opposite is “Henry,” which creates plastic tablet packs of a number of drugs that have to be taken on the similar time — much like Amazon’s PillPack. A pharmacist verifies these two machines’ work to catch any errors.

Alto shares a whole bunch of medicines, together with specialty medication for fertility, HIV and extra.

Why use a pharmacy app?

Regardless of my ever-growing frustration with it, Walgreens has been my main pharmacy for 10 years. The placement I’m going to is large, open 24 hours and at all times has a line on the pharmacy pick-up window. I thought of switching to a different IRL pharmacy, however by no means bought round to it.

Alto is the alternative expertise. There is not any line, only a scheduled supply window. As a substitute of standing behind somebody arguing with the pharmacist about making an attempt to get their drugs with an expired prescription, I get to sit down on my sofa. The lengthy and wanting it’s that each time I’ve used Alto, it has been handy and straightforward.

One other perk is that Alto delivers a 30-day provide. Although that is altering, some pharmacy chains will solely ship a 90-day provide of remedy and that always requires a brand new prescription out of your physician. At the least, that is what Walgreens has at all times instructed me.

How does ordering remedy from a pharmacy app work?

With Alto, there are two methods to get began; with a brand new prescription or an present one.

Create an account

Your physician can ship a brand new prescription to Alto in your behalf, which is able to set off the corporate to textual content you to enroll in an Alto account. Or, you may join an account everytime you need and switch your prescriptions from one other pharmacy.

For those who do switch prescriptions, Alto handles numerous the effort. It can confirm that your prescription is lively and that you’ve got refills, and can contact your physician so that you can get extra refills as wanted.


You may decide which drugs you need in every supply.

Screenshots by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Scheduled deliveries

Regardless of the way you get began, after you have an account, you may schedule deliveries on your remedy. You may decide the date you need them to reach, after which decide a 3-hour supply window. The alternatives are often 12 to three p.m. or 6 to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and a couple of to five p.m. on weekends.

When you decide the prescriptions you want, you will see a abstract of your order, with the prescription identify, dosage, amount and value (the place accessible). While you first begin utilizing Alto, you won’t have the ability to see a value till the corporate runs it previous your insurance coverage. After that, you will see the copay price from the final time you ordered the remedy.

Throughout your scheduled supply time, a supply particular person reveals up along with your drugs in a sealed field, which additionally features a single wrapped salted caramel as an added deal with. Walgreens simply cannot match that.

Does it price extra?

Costs are on par with what you’d pay at every other pharmacy. You may add your insurance coverage info or a pharmacy financial savings card to your profile to get your copay or a reduction.

You may as well pay full value out of pocket for drugs that are not lined by insurance coverage. There aren’t any charges to make use of Alto, and in contrast to Walgreens or CVS, there is no supply charge.


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Is it secure?

I used to be nervous over utilizing a pharmacy in an app, largely that I’d find yourself with the unsuitable remedy — and even worse, pretend remedy.

A giant purpose why I attempted it in any respect was that one in every of my docs launched me to it. I used to be inclined to take their skilled judgement as a marker of security. One more reason I gave it an opportunity was as a result of I realized Alto was born from AG Pharmacy, a neighborhood brick-and-mortar SF pharmacy that operated for round 30 years. Lastly, I examine my state’s licensing board to confirm the corporate had a pharmacy license earlier than I scheduled my first supply.

Alto is legit, however that is to not say that each pharmacy you discover on-line is. The FDA has a program referred to as BeSafeRx that will help you keep away from pharmacy web sites which can be straight-up scams, and discover ones which can be secure.

Different pharmacy apps and providers

Alto is much from the one app on the market, listed here are a couple of different prescription supply web sites and apps:

There are additionally many websites the place you may order contraception and nutritional vitamins for supply.


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