Pharma’s fear for Amazon: they attack without warning and take no prisoners when taking over the market


Alessandro Santoro


The news came out only in February, but it was just over a year ago that Amazon launched its own line of generic OTCs, thereby officially entering the vast US drug market. For the large US pharmcy retail chains and for many pharma distributors this was a total shock and, as usual when Amazon decides to break into a new market, they didn’t see it coming and suddenly had to witness the e-commerce giant’s underpice selling to quickly conquer market leadership. Apparently, plans by the multinational led by Jeff Bezos are not to stop with selling generic drugs only.

When the world of Pharma speaks of Amazon, it does so with the same reverential fear cowboys in western movies speak of Indians: they can’t tell where and when they’ll hit, but the one thing they do know is that they will eventually. This is exactly how the e-commerce behemoth first set foot in the pharmaceutical market. It was a year ago, in August 2017, but the pharma press and operators only noticed in February this year. The news was given by the financial news channel CNBC: Amazon had sneaked into the drug market, as silently as usual when it enters a new business, to launch a new, private label line of around 60 generic other-the-counter drugs in the US, made by Perrigo and sold on Amazon’s online platform, at absolutely the lowest possible prices. For example, 200 mg ibuprofen in packs of 500 tablets is sold at $ 6.98, while CVS has it at $ 15.99, Walgreens at $ 15.49 and Rite Aid at $ 14.99. The official entry of the e-commerce giant into the drug market has been concerning the US market stakeholders only for now, though clearly pharma managers in the rest of the world are not going to sleep like a log on it. The reason is that Amazon ...