You’ve probably seen online coverage speculating whether Amazon will eventually enter the pharmacy market. Recently, Amazon hired several healthcare professionals (including pharmacists) to analyze the best ways to establish itself on the U.S. pharmacy market.
I’ve always been skeptical of Amazon’s efforts: too many regulations to comply, too much oversight, too much at stake for non-compliance, and the competition is immense. However, Amazon is more serious than ever due to high-deductible plans and more consumers paying for their own health care. It already started selling medical supplies in the U.S. and publicly expressed interest about moving into the healthcare space. To test the ground, Amazon has started selling pharmaceuticals in Japan. If the model succeeds, we are likely to see AmazonRx or something of that sort operating in the U.S., and even more competition for pharmacies (particularly the mail-order pharmacies). On the other hand, Amazon is likely to be more transparent than major PBM-operated mail order pharmacies in its drug pricing and its cost-reduction model – and potentially we could see a reduction in drug pricing.