Amazon eyeing pharmacy space?

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Amazon’s move into groceries shook up the food retail scene. That scenario may be in store for pharmacies.

CNBC reported Tuesday evening that Amazon is ushering in a “business lead” to explore a foray into the pharmacy business and that the company has stepped up recruiting from the pharmacy arena.

Amazon_pharmacyCiting unidentified sources, CNBC said Amazon is adding a general manager to oversee a team to sketch out a pharmacy strategy, which would fall under the online retail giant’s consumables business umbrella.

The CNBC report also noted that Amazon recently hired Mark Lyons from Premera Blue Cross, who a source said is charged with creating an internal PBM for Amazon staff that could be built out down the road. Lyons’ LinkedIn profile lists him as senior manager of pharmacy benefits at Amazon, having joined the company in April.

Amazon, too, has begun selling home medical supplies and equipment and is looking to hire for its “professional health care program,” CNBC reported.

Amazon has dabbled in the pharmacy space before. In 1999, the company bought a 40% stake in Drugstore.com, with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tabbed as a director of the online pharmacy retailer.

Rite Aid had served as Drugstore.com’s pharmacy provider since the e-tailer’s launch in 1999, while Drugstore.com operated Rite Aid’s online store. But Drugstore.com sold its pharmacy business to BioScrip in 2010, and then in March 2011 Walgreens unveiled a deal to buy Drugstore.com. That meant Rite Aid needed to find a new e-commerce partner, and it turned to Amazon for the technology to drive its online store.

Rite Aid used Amazon’s web store, fulfillment, payment and warehousing solutions. The drug chain later brought its online operation in-house with the relaunch of its redesigned website and e-store in 2013.


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