Amazon's PillPack Deal Scares Investors From Health Provider ETF

Amazon acquires online pharmacy PillPack, reports peg deal at nearly $1B

Amazon deals big pharma a quick $23.5B blow with a $1B acquisition of PillPack

PillPack's tech-first approach works to facilitate the packaging, delivery, and refills of medications.

Founded out of Boston in 2013, PillPack invites customers to sign up online, and the company then dispatches "over-the-counter" and prescription medications in individual packs organized by date and time. "One is in line with Amazon's initial food delivery platform leading to the Whole Foods acquisition: This could be the harbinger of Amazon getting into the pharmacy storefront and rapid clinic business".

Both Walgreens and CVS recently debuted same-day delivery programs to maintain an edge over the impending Amazocalypse, but it will be tough to stay competitive with Bezos' almost unlimited resources.

Shares of drug wholesalers McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen also fell sharply.

"PillPack's visionary team has a combination of deep pharmacy experience and a focus on technology", Jeff Wilke, Amazon CEO Worldwide Consumer, said in a statement.

The companies expect to close the deal later this year.

The challenge that the company is addressing is very real: the USA is a huge consumer of medicines, and some of that has tipped into a large epidemic of abuse.

That said, Pessina added, "We know that we have to change the level of our services to the customers, and we are working quite hard on that direction". The big pharmacy chains have been bracing for Amazon's arrival, and this deal could "shake up the drugstore industry", per CNBC. Beyond a joint press release, Amazon declined to disclose terms of the deal or comment on how the business would be integrated.

PillPack has mail-order pharmacy licenses in all 50 states, which could allow Amazon to expand quickly.

The online retail giant also announced a joint venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway aimed at lowering health costs for the companies' USA employees.

These and other health care stocks rose a few months ago after reports that Amazon may not have been interested in selling prescription drugs.

Those deals were announced after two mega insurer mergers were blocked by federal judges early a year ago on antitrust grounds. Ann Hynes, an analyst with Mizuho Securities USA, wrote in a research note that "the bark is likely worse than its bite, at least initially", and noted that PillPack is not a very innovative offering and only has 40,000 customers.

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