Next Stop on the Amazon Express: The Lucrative Prescription Drug Business?

Amazon.com is almost certain to enter the business of selling prescription drugs by 2019, said two analysts at Leerink Partners, posing a direct threat to the U.S.'s biggest brick-and-mortar drugstore chains."It's a matter of when, not if," Leerink Partners analyst David Larsen said in a report to clients late Thursday. "We expect an announcement within the next 1-2 years."Amazon has a long standing interest in prescription drugs, an industry with multiple middlemen, long supply chains and opaque pricing. In the 1990s, it invested in startup Drugstore.com and Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos sat on the board. Walgreens eventually purchased the site and shuttered it last year to focus on its own branded website Walgreens.com.Leerink's calls with industry experts suggest that Amazon "is in active discussions" with mid-size pharmacy benefit managers and possibly larger player such as Prime Therapeutics, Larsen's colleague, Ana Gupte, wrote in a separate report Friday.Representatives for Amazon didn't respond to a request for comment. On Friday, CNBC reported that Amazon could make a decision about selling prescription drugs online before Thanksgiving. The news network didn't name its sources.If the online retail giant does enter the pharmacy market, it would pose "an immediate near-term threat" to retail pharmacy chains such as CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance, Gupte said.  Continue reading...

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