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Will Amazon soon sell you generic prescription drugs?

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One of the world’s largest online retailers may be getting into the healthcare industry. CNBC reports that Amazon is in “high level” talks with industry representatives regarding prescription drugs. Anonymous sources report that Amazon has been in talks with Mylan and the Sandoz branch of Novartis. A note from Leerink bank confirmed that the Sandoz meeting happened. Both of these companies are fairly large players in the generic prescription drug industry.

This is hardly the first time that Amazon has expressed an interest in entering the healthcare industry. Earlier this year, it was reported that Amazon was hiring personnel to help it enter the healthcare field, and that the company has a license to sell medical equipment.

Initial reports have not made it clear what Amazon’s role in the healthcare market might be. It is possible it could work as a wholesaler, selling drugs to businesses, or sell them as a retailer.

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 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.

At the recent Forbes Healthcare Summit, Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Stefano Pessina said that he believes the regulations and complexities of the pharmaceutical industry may be more than Amazon wants to deal with.

“I believe that they will not come in an industry so complicated as our industry,” he said. “I believe in the end they will use their technology in a different way.”

Despite this skepticism, the leaders of major drug companies have expressed interest in work with the online retailer in the past. The CEOS of Pfizer and Allergan were asked about Amazon during a recent conference call and expressed a willingness to engage with the retail giant, but nothing official has been announced.

“Just like science is disrupted with gene therapy or novel treatments, I think the drug distribution channel also should be disrupted with improvements based on technology or efficiency,” Allergan’s Brent Saunders said during a recent conference call.

Who knows, one day ordering your medication might be as easy as using Alexa to check WebMD.

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Eric Brackett
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