Medicine

Amazon buys prescription delivery startup PillPack

Amazon buys prescription delivery startup PillPack

The internet giant said on Thursday it would buy online pharmacy PillPack, a small but significant step into the USA healthcare sector.

PillPack, which is aimed at consumers who take multiple medications, presorts customers' prescriptions and helps manage refills and shipping.

Most immediately, the move represents a formidable challenge to pharmacy chains including Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and CVS Health Corp., the two largest drugstore chains in the U.S. Walgreens shares sank 8.5 percent at 10:49 a.m.in NY, while CVS shares shed 8.9 percent.

The deal is expected to close during the second half of 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions. "We're excited to see what we can do together on behalf of customers over time". Apparently Walmart was also interested in buying PillPack and was outbid by Amazon.

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

The online retail giant also announced a joint venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway aimed at lowering health costs for the companies' USA employees.

Terms of the arrangement were not immediately disclosed.

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Shares in Walgreens Boots Alliance - which owns Boots in the United Kingdom, and CVS Health and Rite Aid were sent tumbling on Thursday afternoon, wiping $12.8bn (£9.7bn) off their combined market value.

The pharmaceutical supply chain, including pharmacy benefit managers and wholesalers, has been under pressure for the past one year as media reports of Amazon's push into the market spooked investors.

Acquiring PillPack marries the company's aspirations to move into consumer-centric healthcare verticals and its strong focus on complex logistics and delivery systems.

The move comes amid speculation that Amazon was planning to get into the pharmacy or drug-distribution business.

The selloff in drugstore stocks was reminiscent of the food-industry swoon that resulted in June 2017 when Amazon said it was buying Whole Foods Market Inc.

"When Amazon sneezes, everybody else catches a cold", said Joseph Feldman, an analyst with Telsey Advisory. PillPack is authorized to ship drugs in 49 states, according to Reuters.

The startup has raised north of $120 million in funding from big-name backers that include TechStars, Menlo Ventures, and Accel. The companies said the deal would have to clear regulatory hurdles before it is complete.


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