Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

Amazon acquiring online pharmacy PillPack, sending drug retailer shares down

PillPack prepackages and mails consumers pills.									Pat Greenhouse  The Boston Globe PillPack prepackages and mails consumers pills. Pat Greenhouse The Boston Globe
Johnnie Parks | 28 June, 2018, 20:43

"PillPack is meaningfully improving its customers' lives, and we want to help them continue making it easy for people to save time, simplify their lives, and feel healthier". It also handles refills and communicates directly with users' insurance and doctors.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

With its far-reaching and widely popular online site, Amazon moves closer to establishing beachheads in medicine chests across the US and using that muscle to alter the traditional playbook for prescription drug distribution.

The online retail giant also announced a joint venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway aimed at lowering health costs for the companies' USA employees.

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"PillPack's visionary team has a combination of deep pharmacy experience and a focus on technology", Jeff Wilke, Amazon CEO Worldwide Consumer, said in a statement.

Shares in Walgreens Boots Alliance - which owns Boots in the United Kingdom, and CVS Health and Rite Aid were sent tumbling on Thursday afternoon, wiping $12.8bn (£9.7bn) off their combined market value.

Its entry into drug distribution is "a warning shot in what is about to become a major battle within the pharmacy space", said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. Walgreens stock was down 9.46% in pre-market trading. "We're excited to see what we can do together on behalf of customers over time". Shares of Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Express Scripts all dropped more than 3% on the news.

He added this "is only the first play" in an increasingly aggressive strategy by Amazon for a much more significant role in pharmacy. "Pharmacy networks are controlled by managed care companies and pharmacy benefit managers with captive mail order capabilities". Walmart was reportedly interested in buying PillPack earlier his year, but Amazon seems to have won out in the end. The three companies said they would use big-data analysis and other high-tech tools to improve care and cut waste. The parties expect to close the transaction during the second half of 2018.

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