Amazon makes big foray into healthcare with PillPack purchase

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(Bloomberg) – Inc. said that it had agreed to buy online pharmacy PillPack in a deal that will further the retail giant’s ambitions in healthcare.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The move comes amid speculation that Amazon was planning to get into the pharmacy or drug-distribution business. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2018, according to a statement from the companies.

The transaction sets up a showdown between Amazon and pharmacy-benefit managers including Express Scripts Holding Co., which recently agreed to be acquired by health insurer Cigna Corp., and CVS Health Corp.

Shares of CVS, Express Scripts and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. were down in premarket trading in New York. The slump in Walgreens shares is likely to weigh on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which just added the stock to its index of 30 companies, replacing General Electric Co.

PillPack pre-sorts pills into date- and time-stamped packets for patients who take multiple drugs – common for older people dealing with several chronic conditions. It has also developed pharmacy software that helps coordinate refills, makes sure the shipments are on time, and provides an online dashboard for patients.

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