Monday, 24 September, 2018

Amazon enters pharmacy market

Pillpack Above Pillpack
Elsie Buchanan | 30 June, 2018, 02:28

The announcement that Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) would acquire online pharmacy PillPack sank shares in Walgreens and other drug retailers on Thursday.

PillPack is an online pharmacy which operates in all 50 U.S. states and offers pre-sorted dose packaging and home delivery. PillPack is an online pharmacy that packages, organized and delivers presorted doses of medications and it's created to help patients who take multiple medications.

The pact follows months of speculation about Amazon's plans to get into the pharmacy or drug-distribution business.

Amazon has always been rumored to be interested in the pharmacy business, and the entry by a powerful new player could unsettle a business dominated by large American chains including CVS and Walgreens.

The move represents a formidable threat to pharmacy chains including Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Walgreens was already trading lower after reporting in its latest earnings report that same-store sales in its USA pharmacy business fell.

The deal is expected to close during the second half of 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

The health care industry is also in the midst of merger mania. The acquisition of PillPack puts Amazon in a position to become even more entrenched in peoples' everyday lives and offer shoppers everything they need, straight to their doorstep.

For about a year, market watchers have been tracking Amazon's every move in healthcare for clues about its intentions in pharmaceuticals.

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Hynes recommended buying shares of CVS Health and Express Scripts on weakness as Amazon's "bark is likely worse than the bite, at least initially". Pharmacy and health benefits companies have long fretted that they'd be next.

The selloff in drugstore stocks was reminiscent of the food-industry swoon that resulted in June 2017 when Amazon said it was buying Whole Foods Market Inc.

Three of the largest players, including the CVS and Walgreens, the #1 and #2 market leaders respectively, all took hits today.

"I think this move jump-starts efforts and clears some hurdles [for Amazon], and what it's really going to do is fast-track any moves they want to make to get licensed", Rea said.

For now, Walgreens indicated that it was in no hurry to find a deal to respond to Amazon, despite the damage to its stock. Pessina insisted that physical pharmacies would continue to be "very important".

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild said that "the Australian regulatory environment for prescription medicine supply may be an impediment to Amazon, but so be it because our regulatory environment is beneficial for patient safety and quality use of medicines".

GE left the Dow with the lowest share price and least amount of influence in the index, which is derived from an average of stock prices among constituent companies.

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