Three of America’s four biggest drugstores saw their shares decline on Wednesday (May 26) following a report that Amazon may be getting into the pharmacy business. According to CNBC, CVS saw its shares drop by around 3 percent, Walgreens dropped almost 4 percent and Rite Aid dropped more than 4 percent.
It’s not yet clear what an Amazon pharmacy would look like, whether it would mean opening its own standalone stores or adding pharmacies to its Whole Foods supermarkets. A report this week from Business Insider said the world’s largest company is just exploring the idea. Assuming it goes forward, it could be more than a year before the stores open.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment, saying only that the company is focused on its at-home pharmacy delivery business. Amazon has spent the past few years delving into the healthcare arena, acquiring the online pharmacy PillPack in 2018. Last year, it launched Amazon Pharmacy, a service that allows customers in most states to get prescriptions filled and delivered to their door.
With Amazon Pharmacy, consumers can access a self-service platform via their computer or smartphone that lets them store payments and insurance information and manage their medication and refills. Amazon sells those medications at a discounted rate for consumers who pay without using insurance.
As CNBC noted, companies like Walgreens and CVS were already under pressure from Amazon, as customers have begun buying things like toilet paper and shampoo online. “That disruption has caused drugstore chains to look for other ways to drive foot traffic and boost sales,” the story said. “CVS is adding more healthcare services to its stores, from primary care visits to sleep apnea screenings. Walgreens has focused on speedy and convenient services, such as curbside pickup and home delivery. And Rite Aid has refreshed its stores with new signage and a different mix of products on shelves.”