PlanetRx online drugs store seals AOL deal…

Online US drugs store PlanetRx has signed an exclusive deal with leading online service provider AOL to make it “premier online pharmacy partner” in AOL’s health and beauty channels.

The deal, worth up to $15m (9m) to AOL, marks the opening shot in the battle to dominate the next major consumer category to commit to the Web in the US – pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

PlanetRx (www.planetrx.com), which expects to begin selling both prescription and non-prescription products from its site later this month, is competing against rival Internet start-up Drugstore.com to secure widescale promotion and distribution on major US “portal” sites.

Both will also compete against rival established pharmaceutical chains, which are running tests for consumers to order repeat prescriptions over the Internet.

US regulations for prescribed medicines now allow both independent chemists and drug companies to offer mail-out services for repeat prescriptions which can be ordered over the Net.

Bill Razzouk, chief executive of PlanetRx, says: “For a business such as PlanetRx which services mass market online consumers, the AOL family of brands is an extremely impor- tant strategic partner.”

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