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Amazon Possibly Searching for Pharmacy Benefit Manager Partner

Reports from an investment bank suggest Amazon is looking to collaborate with a PBM.
Published Online: Sep 28,2017
Laurie Toich, Assistant Editor
At the same time that Amazon bought Whole Foods, the name of the online retailer peppered headlines with speculation of potentially entering the pharmacy space as well. Healthcare experts have kept a close watch on Amazon’s potential emergence into pharmacy.

New reports suggest that Amazon may be talking to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and could possibly be exploring contractual agreements, according to Markets Insider.

In a report from Axios, which cited analysts at the investment bank Leerink Partners, Amazon is looking to enter the pharmacy space to continuously expand their offerings to customers.

It is speculated that Amazon may pursue a mail-order pharmacy that focuses on uninsured patients or those who have high-deductibles and pay cash for their drugs, according to the article.

Leerink reports that conversations with PBMs have hinted that Amazon is looking to enter the pharmacy space soon. It would take the online giant up to 24 months to obtain the proper licensure in all 50 states to expand pharmacy services to all Americans.

Business Insider reports that Amazon is seeking to partner with a PBM once its pharmacy business has taken off to ensure that they are navigating the healthcare system properly since it is quite different than Amazon’s current offerings.

Leerink speculates that Amazon entering the pharmacy space would affect distributors. In the report, Cardinal Health said that delivery of medical products could be a big risk, highlighting that medical billing is complicated.

Amazon may not be equipped to take on this challenge, according to the article.

However, partnering with a PBM—or buying one—would likely allow Amazon to start selling prescription drugs fairly seamlessly, the article concluded.