Amazon to buy PillPack in move into pharmacy in US

Saturday, 30 Jun, 2018

Bezos been thinking about the drug business for almost two decades; in 1999, Amazon purchased a stake in Drugstore.com.

The Boston-based startup PillPack primarily caters to customers who take multiple medications. They're saying they want to get mail order back up to 20% of the U.S. pharmacy market; and that's probably the threshold they look at in other markets. Walgreens Boots Alliance, the newest Dow component, plunged more than 10%.

The deal could give Amazon another major foothold in New England, where it has made several major acquisitions and investments in recent years.

Online pharmacy deal expected to close during 2018. The e-commerce giant previously bought home security tech startup Ring for a reported $1.2 billion last February.

After Amazon announced the purchase, investors across the country started flushing their drug stocks down the toilet - knocking $23.5B worth of market value off of the biggest drug companies.

The industry response was immediate - Rite Aid's value plummeted 11.1%, Walgreens fell 9.9%, and CVS dropped 6.1%. In January, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announced plans to create an independent company that's "free from profit-making incentive" and geared toward providing innovative healthcare solutions to their US employees. But its expectation of over $100 million U.S. in 2018 revenue pales compared with larger rivals.

Shares of drug wholesalers, like those of AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Express Scripts, also took a smaller hit following news of the deal.

Walgreens" chief executive, Stefano Pessina, said he was "not particularly worried" about the PillPack deal in an earnings conference call with analysts on Thursday, describing it only as a "declaration of intent' by Amazon.

"The pharmacy world is much more complex than just delivering certain pills or packages", said Pessina.

'At this juncture we are not anxious about Amazon's entrance into the prescription market, ' Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Steven Halper said in a note. Community pharmacy has so many strengths to build on, and they have to - if they just sit by and watch, you run the risk of losing to other players, not necessarily Amazon, but any of the other chains offering a better service to consumers.

Customers can talk/chat with a pharmacist at PillPack 24/7. The two reached an agreement a month later. PillPack streamlines delivery of prescription and over-the-counter medications by pre-sorting them into handy dose packets sent directly to customers' doors nationwide in monthly supplies.

PillPack holds pharmacy licenses in all 50 states, has URAC and VIPPS accreditation and is an in-network pharmacy with most PBMs including major Medicare Part D plans.

PillPack had attracted interest from Walmart Inc, which was looking to buy it for less than $1 billion US, CNBC reported in April.