Amazon to Buy Online Pharmacy Startup PillPack as Entry Into Health Care

Above PillPack

Inc said on Thursday it would buy online pharmacy PillPack, a small but significant step into the USA health care sector, sending shares of drug distributors and retailers lower.

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

PillPack is an online pharmacy which operates in all 50 U.S. states and offers pre-sorted dose packaging and home delivery.

PillPack, which delivers medications in pre-sorted dose packages and employs more than 700, also has offices in Manchester, N.H. The company had previously been rumored to have been in talks with Walmart. The company serves patients who take multiple medications, sorting those medications into individual packets, so patients don't have sort the drugs themselves. The deal is expected to close later this year.

Watch Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid trade here. The big pharmacy chains have been bracing for Amazon's arrival, and this deal could "shake up the drugstore industry", per CNBC.

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"CVS CVS.N and Walgreens have become particularly reliant on the pharmacy side to drive their businesses forward", said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, calling it a "folly" to not invest in retail.

"We know that we have to change the level of our services to the customers and we are working quite hard on that direction, but we are not anxious", Pessina said. It also handles refills and communicates directly with users' insurance and doctors.

The startup has raised north of $120 million in funding from big-name backers that include TechStars, Menlo Ventures, and Accel.

The deal could give Amazon another major foothold in New England, where it has made several major acquisitions and investments in recent years. "Pharmacy networks are controlled by managed care companies and pharmacy benefit managers with captive mail order capabilities". In January, the company announced a collaboration with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway meant to reduce healthcare costs for USA workers.

Someday soon, the workers in Amazon-branded shirts and vans could be delivering customers' medication.

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