Already. Amazon has begun selling medical supplies and equipment in the U.S. and specific medical products globally, In January the internet giant announced it was joining with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan to form an independent, non-profit health care company for their U.S. employees, and recently appointed Dr. Atul Gawande the venture’s CEO.
In its clearest signal yet of its intent to disrupt key components of the healthcare industry, Amazon has now agreed to acquire online pharmacy PillPack, confirming months of speculation that the customer-centric company would jump into the pharmacy sector. Privately held PillPack is still a relatively small player, with an estimated $100 million in annual revenue, Amazon — with $178 billion in sales last year, exceptional tech-nology, nationwide distribution capabilities and a history of disrupting oth-er industries — poses a formidable threat to the traditional pharmacy business where escalating drug prices and the need to reduce their costs to consumers has become a red hot policy and political issue. In addition, PillPack already has pharmacy licenses in all 50 states and relationships with most major drug-benefit managers such as Express Scripts Holding Co., eliminating Amazon’s need to build those ties from scratch.
Of course only time will tell whether Amazon has the right formula for what most ails the U.S. health care industry — unending cost spikes & eye-smacking inefficiency — but given its track record in disrupting other industries, I for one wouldn’t bet against the customer-centric colossus whose very name has become a verb: as in, to be “Amazoned” means to have your business crushed because the company got into your industry.