Amazon buys prescription delivery startup PillPack

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

Amazon today unveiled plans to get into the pharmacy business with the acquisition of the online service PillPack.

TJ Parker, co-founder and CEO of PillPack, said the company which specializes in handling dose packaging and coordinates refills and renewals will benefit from a tie-up with Amazon.

Amazon is buying online pharmacy PillPack, and the main pharmacy stocks are getting whacked.

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The purchase follows the announcement in January that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co were forming a joint venture to tackle rising US health care costs.

Walgreens' shares dove Thursday morning following news that Amazon is shouldering its way into the pharmacy business, a development that capped off an eventful few weeks for the Deerfield-based chain.

Walgreens' chief executive, Stefano Pessina, said he was "not particularly worried" about the PillPack deal in an earnings conference call with analysts on Thursday, describing it only as a "declaration of intent" by Amazon. Shares of drug wholesalers McKesson Corp (MCK.N), Cardinal Health (CAH.N) and AmerisourceBergen (ABC.N) also fell sharply. The trend has been playing out repeatedly over the past year, with grocery stores, athletic-apparel retailers, and package-delivery services among the afflicted groups.

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Amazon has long expanded beyond its simple ecommerce roots and is now targeting multiple industries. "The market and the press are making it out to be a bigger deal than what it actually is", Lekraj said. The firm's shares have spiked 435% since the beginning of 2015, more than 14 times the return for the benchmark S&P 500 over the same period. Walmart was reportedly interested in buying PillPack earlier his year, but Amazon seems to have won out in the end.

As Business Insider's Lydia Ramsey has pointed out in the past, the two rivals are locked in a battle to reach the elderly market, which by 2050 is expected to double from where it was in 2012.

"We know that we have to change the level of our services to the customers and we are working quite hard on that direction, but we are not anxious", Pessina said.

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