Health Services

Amazon in the world of the healthcare pharmacy

Here is an explainer of how Amazon is making inroads into the pharmacy world and what competitors are doing in reaction.

Amazon has been taking big steps into the healthcare world and one of the more eye-popping moves was its edging out Walmart to purchase PillPack, an online pharmacy in July 2018.

Still, Amazon’ foray into the online pharmacy has not been without bumps — most recently, it threatened to file a lawsuit against SureScripts, which it claims is blocking access to the list of medications that patients take. That would fundamentally make it more difficult for the Seattle company to serve its patients.

For any one, wishing to learn more about Amazon and its entry into the online pharmacy world and how competitors are reacting, the following articles are must reads.

Experts weigh in on Amazon disrupting the pharmacy world
A full year before Amazon finally bought online pharmacy PillPack, MedCity News reached out to experts about what Amazon’s entry might mean for the pharmacy market. Of course, the biggest strength that the company has is its huge infrastructure, which is a huge advantage to get drugs to people quickly.

Another expert mused whether after prescription data, Amazon may find an interest in genetic data of patients. Given its recommendation engine, one expert pointed to the fact that if a person buys a drug to treat COPD, Amazon might recommend COPD devices that the patient may wish to purchase as well.

The leader to run Amazon’s pharmacy effort
It appears that the Seattle retailer has picked a 14-year company veteran to lead the pharmacy effort. Nader Kabbani’s LinkedIn profile shows him as vice president of Amazon Flex, which helps drivers deliver packages from their vehicles. But he is reportedly leading the Amazon pharmacy business with all the executives from PillPack reporting to him.

How are competitors reacting?
That Amazon is trying to encroach on territory of traditional healthcare players is not going unnoticed. Earlier this year, CVS Health launched a pilot membership program in the Boston area called CarePass that offers free one or two day delivery on most prescription medications and purchases, a discount on items under the CVS Health brand, access to a 24/7 pharmacist hotline and a $10 monthly store credit. CarePass itself costs $5 a month or $48 for an annual membership.

CVS Health is the largest retail pharmacy in the nation.

Photo: Irina_Strelnikova, Getty Images