The Amazon juggernaut finally comes into view

Community pharmacy may believe there is no competition for monitored dosage systems (MDS) currently supplied at a loss. But a glance in the rear-view mirror reveals a juggernaut coming into view: Amazon has just acquired PillPack, an online pharmacy that operates in 49 US states and focuses on supply to customers on multiple medications.

Shares in Walgreens Boots Alliance, CVS Health and McKesson fell 7–10% in response, a signal of how seriously investors take the threat of Amazon to conventional pharmacy distribution and wholesaling providers. If the acquisition is approved, Amazon, whose Prime subscription service has 100 million subscribers, could, in time, have the capability to supply medicines to the homes of customers well beyond the United States[1]
. High MDS volumes could be supplied by Amazon with far greater efficiency and consequently at lower cost than now — an attractive proposition for national and local NHS payers. In 2015–2016, 24% of adults living in their own homes in England were taking three or more medicines[2]
— a huge potential market for MDS.

Eileen Neilson, director, Willow Consulting (London) Ltd.


[1] Crow D. Amazon kick-starts campaign to disrupt pharmacy sector: PillPack deal offers the US group a launch pad for a hallmark full-frontal assault. The Financial Times 29 June 2018. Available at: (accessed June 2018)

[2] NHS Digital. Health survey for England, 2016: Prescribed medicines. Available at: (accessed July 2018)

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, The Amazon juggernaut finally comes into view;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205137

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