Amazon is hiring a business lead to figure out how the company can break into the multibillion-dollar pharmacy market.
For the last few years, Amazon has held at least one annual meeting at its Seattle, WA headquarters to discuss whether it should enter the pharmacy business, says two people familiar with the company's plans.
But this year, with the rise of high-deductible plans and the trend towards consumers paying for health care, it is ready to get more serious.
Two people said that it's not a done deal that Amazon will move into this space, given the complex web of established players. But it is bringing on a new general manager to lead the team and formulate a strategy, and is deep in discussions with industry experts.
That hire would sit under the consumables business, the source said.
Another person said it's started to recruit more broadly from the pharmacy space.
The company recently started selling medical supplies and equipment in the US, and is hiring for its "professional health care programme" to ensure that the company is meeting regulatory requirements. It also hired Mark Lyons two months ago from Premera Blue Cross.
A source said that Lyons is tasked with building an internal pharmacy benefits manager for Amazon employees, which might be later scaled out.
Amazon declined to comment.
Japan Times reported in April of this year that the company expanded its Prime Now delivery service to include drug and cosmetic sales, with the support of local partners. Amazon's category page on its Japanese site now includes "pharmaceuticals," and sells drugs to patients with approval from a pharmacist.