Is the CVS/Aetna acquisition really about Amazon?

Published on: December 4, 2017
By: Dan Muller

CVS Aetna Acquisition.jpeg

In today’s world almost any story can be traced back to Amazon (regular readers of our blog will already know that) and the CVS/Aetna acquisition is no exception. To get you up to speed, the pharmacy chain agreed yesterday to purchase Aetna for $69 billion. The deal has some experts weighing in on how it could change the way US consumers buy drugs and seek out healthcare. According to Quartz Media, CVS now has the potential to expand their primary-care and medical follow-up services as the result of the deal. Regardless of their specific plan, the acquisition does signify some type of shift in strategy, which may have been influenced by a certain eCommerce giant.

Back in May, Amazon was reportedly looking to hire a strategist for expanding their pharmaceutical offerings. There were also stories in October about how Amazon acquired pharmacy licenses in 12 states – they  claimed this was intended for the sale of medical supplies, but it also positions them to sell prescriptions. Add to this the recent reports of meetings with generic drug manufacturers Mylan and Sandoz, and you can see that there’s more than a little bit of pharma-related planning going on. So while we can’t say definitively whether or not Amazon wants to sell drugs direct to consumers or act as a wholesaler, it has caused some uneasiness in the space.

Amazon Prescriptions Survey

But how do consumers feel about this – are they ready to buy their prescription drugs online? According to Market Track’s Shopper Insight Series survey, 54% of people said that they would trust Amazon to refill their prescription. However, our survey also indicated that this is one of the least popular purchase categories for online, with 71% reporting that they’d prefer to make health/drug purchases in-store over online. That may seem like bad news for Amazon’s pharmaceutical ventures, but this insight could speak more to consumer attitudes toward buying immediate cold/flu treatment items and less about their feelings on filling prescriptions.



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