Report: Amazon gets wholesale pharmacy licenses amid speculation of prescription drug push

Amazon could someday operate pharmacy distribution centers such as this one. (Bigstock Photo)

Amazon is getting closer to jumping into the prescription drug business.

The latest evidence comes in the form of a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which found through reviews of public records that Amazon got the go-ahead over the past year from pharmaceutical boards in 12 states to become a distributor. Those states are Nevada, Arizona, North Dakota, Louisiana, Alabama, New Jersey, Michigan, Connecticut, Idaho, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee, with an application pending in Maine, but not Amazon’s home turf of Washington state.

The report adds fuel to the growing speculation that Amazon is preparing to sell prescription drugs online. CNBC reported earlier this month that Amazon is in the final stages of deciding if and how to delve into the pharmacy space and the company could make that call by Thanksgiving.

Reports of Amazon’s pharmaceutical ambitions have created buzz among investors. The topic came up during the company’s third quarter earnings call Thursday, but executives declined to comment.

Crain’s Cleveland Business reported that the licenses could be part of an effort to sell directly to hospitals and doctors through Amazon Business. Amazon is investing in this area, and just this week announced a new Amazon Prime shipping program focused specifically on businesses.

The Post-Dispatch named several former pharmaceutical and medical executives leading the wholesale push in states like Nevada and Indiana, and the company recently hired Premera Blue Cross executive Mark Lyons as a senior manager of pharmacy benefits.

Amazon has been eyeing the healthcare space for years now, and has dipped its toes in the pool but has yet to take the full plunge. Amazon Web Services, its cloud platform, is a common go-to for medical and health companies and the company has been increasings its presence in that area recently.

GeekWire

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