Amazon acquires pharmacy startup PillPack; purchase price thought to be near $1b

PillPack prepackages and mails consumers pills.									Pat Greenhouse  The Boston Globe

There's a reason shares of CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid were tumbling Thursday, and it can be summed up in one word: Amazon.

The announcement confirmed earlier speculation that Amazon was interested in expanding into healthcare.

He added this "is only the first play" in an increasingly aggressive strategy by Amazon for a much more significant role in pharmacy.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2018.

With its user-friendly packaging and design, PillPack has shaken up the pharmacy business, generating more than $100 million in revenue past year. It has raised about $120m from investors, according to its website. The company is aimed at people who take multiple prescriptions, offering services like pre-sorted dose packaging and home delivery. It also handles refills and communicates directly with users' insurance and doctors.

"PillPack's visionary team has a combination of deep pharmacy experience and a focus on technology", said Jeff Wilke, the head of Amazon's consumer branch.

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

Last year, the firm sent shudders through healthcare stocks after it was reported that it had won approval from state regulators for drug distribution. Earlier this year, the technology giant announced its move into us employee health care via a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan, while reports have been surfacing for a while that it was looking to enter the lucrative pharmaceutical realm.

Amazon's ambitions to become an online pharmacy are finally coming to fruition.

"This is incredibly bad news for traditional players, like Walgreens and CVS, who stand to lose the most from Amazon's determination to grow its share", Saunders said.

Those companies increasingly rely on medications to bring customers into their stores.

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