There are a few things left that Amazon.com doesn’t sell, and one of them is prescription drugs. Yet for most of the last year, analysts and retail-watchers have speculated that Amazon may be looking to get into the prescription drug business. Now there’s proof that the retailer has taken more official steps toward becoming a mail-order pharmacy.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Amazon has become a licensed pharmaceutical wholesaler in 12 states, with a pending application in a thirteenth. To ship drugs directly to consumers, competing with large pharmacy benefit managers and mail-order pharmacies like Caremark or Express Scripts, Amazon would also need to be licensed as a pharmacy in each state to which it shipped drugs.
The facilities listed on the applications are distribution centers in Indiana. One industry analyst observed to the Post-Dispatch that Amazon may be building its own pharmacy capabilities, or could acquire an existing pharmacy, as it did when it acquired Whole Foods to bolster the grocery business that it had been building for years.
The Post-Dispatch was able to confirm through public records that Amazon has been approved as a pharmaceutical wholesaler in the states of Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, and Tennessee. An application in Maine is still pending.
The names on applications are people who previously worked in the medical supplies and mail-order pharmacy industry, according to LinkedIn.
Amazon declined to comment to the Post-Dispatch, calling the clues “rumors and speculation.”