The prospect of the giant Internet retailer, Amazon, entering the business is beginning to cause far-reaching reverberations for a range of companies, roiling the shares of drugstore chains, drug distributors and pharmacy-benefit managers, and potentially precipitating one of the biggest corporate merger deals this year.
On 26th October, this year, the pressure was plain to see. A report that Amazon had received pharmacy-wholesaler licenses in a dozen states triggered a fast and steep selloff that wounded the likes of McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc. And late in the day, shares of Aetna Inc. surged after a Wall Street Journal report that it’s in talks to be taken over by CVS Health Corp. for more than $200 a share.
CVS and Aetna have held discussions about a potential deal, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified as the details aren’t public.
Brian Tanquilut, an analyst for Jefferies, noted that the Internet retailer acquired many of the wholesale pharmacy licenses between fall of last year and early this year, around when the company started selling medical supplies to businesses. “It’s not evidence of a retail entry into the pharmacy business,” he said.
The likelihood of Amazon’s eventually getting into the pharmacy business is high, several analysts and a former employee said. But it is not clear when it will make that move or how aggressive it intends to be.
Amazon’s entry into the healthcare industry could bring some major changes to the field. After all, the company has greatly disrupted traditional retail and bookstores, but representatives from Sandoz (a global leader in generic and biosimilar medicines) have said it does not expect Amazon to have a “major impact” on its business. Other players in the pharmaceutical industry are also skeptical of Amazon’s entry into this field.