Is an Amazon Pharmacy still on the cards?

By Dan Wilson January 19, 2018 - 12:03 am

We know that in the past that Amazon has been considering and examining the possibility of an Amazon Pharmacy but no firm moves have been made. But now it looks like, with a key job posting as a clue, that Amazon is seriously considering moving into the sale of non-prescription drugs.

As the job description says: “The HIPAA Compliance Lead is an experienced HIPAA professional who will own and operate the security and compliance elements of a new initiative. You will work alongside product managers, software developers, bizdev, and legal teams to ensure that our services are in compliance with HIPAA security and privacy requirements.” HIPAA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that was passed by Congress stateside in 1996. It looks like Amazon wants someone who is au fait with health care regulation to join the team.

One option is that Amazon wants to start selling pharmaceutical drugs. But there are other possibilities. One report suggests that they might be developing diagnostic technology via Alexa that would require professional help and regulatory oversight. In short, you tell Alexa what your symptoms are and she then tells you what’s wrong and makes a prescription. It’s not that crazy an idea. It’s fair enough for minor maladies but more serious conditions should be referred to a doctor.

As is well known, the US health market is huge and lucrative. Branded drugs have a stranglehold whilst being cheaper abroad, notably in next door neighbour Canada. And cheaper generic alternatives are also available. Amazon likes to disrupt markets and pharmaceuticals is ripe for reform. But it is a difficult arena, highly regulated and full of vested interests. Not that any of that has dispirited Jeff Bezos in the past, and despite evident caution, it does look like the Amazon Pharmacy is possible and maybe just what the doctor ordered.

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