29 June, 2018
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.
Inc. (AMZN.O) agreed to buy the online pharmacy startup PillPack, jumping into the health-care business with a deal that will give the retail giant an immediate nationwide drug network. In 2016, the pharmacy benefits company Express Scripts Holding Co. threatened to drop PillPack from its list of approved vendors because of its focus on delivery over storefront retail. Despite the retailer's vast reach, entering the market presented a daunting logistical challenge in terms of licensing and dealing with a range of private and government payers. Earlier this year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, along with fellow CEOs Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co., announced an unnamed venture to tackle healthcare access and costs for their employees. PillPack is meaningfully improving its customers' lives, and we want to help [PillPack] continue making it easy for people to save time, simplify their lives, and feel healthier.
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With its user-friendly packaging and design, PillPack has shaken up the pharmacy business, generating more than $100 million in revenue past year. The parties expect to close the transaction during the second half of 2018.
PillPack was launched by two members of the "hacking medicine" initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and helps people manage multiple medications with a software platform that offers reminders, dose-specific packaging and delivery.
Shareholders suffered jitters after Amazon closed a deal with PillPack, which sells prescriptions in every USA state except Hawaii.
Some analysts played down the immediate threat Amazon poses. It had raised $123 million in financing, most recently $5 million in debt from TriplePoint Venture Growth in August 2017, according to data from industry research firm PitchBook.