Amazon reportedly exploring pharmacy options
NEW YORK — Amazon.com may be on the cusp of entering the pharmaceutical dispensing business, according to a report published by CNBC Tuesday. The company reportedly has hired a general manager whose role is said to be helping the online retailer explore how to hang a pharmacy shingle.
"I think Amazon would introduce a lot of transparency to what drugs really cost," Stephen Buck, co-founder of GoodRx, told CNBC. The report suggested Amazon.com could grab as much as $50 billion in prescription sales.
Amazon.com did hire Mark Lyons two months ago from Premera Blue Cross. A source told CNBC that Lyons is tasked with building an internal pharmacy benefits manager for Amazon employees, which might be later scaled out.
CNBC noted that in Japan, Amazon has added drug and cosmetics delivery to its Prime Now options, and its Japanese site now boasts a pharmaceuticals category page. It noted that Amazon’s playbook typically includes testing new offerings outside the U.S.
Amazon had originally backed Drugstore.com in that company's bid to become an online retail pharmacy, the report said. At a time when brick-and-mortar drug store retailers were first wrestling with online offerings, Drugstore.com and Rite Aid entered a partnership enabling Drugstore.com patients to pick up their prescriptions at a Rite Aid.
Walgreens acquired Drugstore.com in 2011 and five years later dissolved the business as Walgreens focused on its Walgreens.com URL.