Over the years, Amazon has grown from an online bookstore into a retail juggernaut. The website and mobile apps now allow customers to purchase a variety of goods including electronics, music, movies, home or garden items, toys, and more. Now the company appears to be getting into the drug business as well with a major deal in place to purchase the online pharmacy PillPack.
According to a NY Times report, Amazon announced the deal to purchase PillPack on Thursday (June 28). That allows the online retailer to get involved in the prescription drug business that is worth $560 billion overall. However, it also has the healthcare industry and other companies worried over the future for pharmaceutical sales. Among the companies whose stocks took a hit following the news were CVS Health, Walgreens, and Rite Aid.
This isn’t the first time that Amazon tried to make a play in the pharmaceuticals sector. Back in 1999 Amazon bought up 40 percent of Drugstore.com but ended up failing to make progress due to “logistical and regulatory challenges.” The newer deal seems to make more sense as Amazon has also established a real-world presence with last year’s purchase of Whole Foods. That gives them retail space for selling prescriptions in addition to their online platform.
While many Americans tend to shop online, the Iqvia research firm provided data that says prescriptions tend to be more of a “brick-and-mortar” purchase. The firm said about 90 percent of all prescriptions are filled in person at a pharmacy, according to NY Times. However, Amazon is hoping to change that trend as they have changed others. The online retailer has helped to shift the annual “Black Friday” shopping frenzy away from people camping outside of brick-and-mortar stores to get deals. Instead, Amazon hosts a week or more of “Black Friday deals.”
In addition, Amazon has been part of revolutionizing the way people consume media such as books, music, and movies. They also have been one of the major forces in terms of smart home technology through the use of their interactive voice assistant “Alexa” and their line of Echo devices.
Now the company will do their best to change how people view buying their prescriptions. However, it may be tough to convince those who are used to heading to the pharmacy to make sure they get the right prescription on time. Competitors such as Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS are certainly hoping that trend of in-store prescription buys will stay intact.