February 27, 2018

NOTHING COSTS MORE THAN IT USED TO:

Amazon is already trying to disrupt health care (Tami Luhby, February 27, 2018, CNN Money)

The Basic Care line, which has its own page within the Amazon site, offers a range of products, including ibuprofen, allergy medicine, laxatives, hair regrowth treatments and nicotine gum.

Prices for many items are significantly cheaper than traditional pharmacies, such as CVS (CVS), Walgreens (WBA), Rite Aid (RAD) -- even Walmart, analysts at Raymond James said in a December report. For instance, Basic Care ibuprofen cost $7.50 for 500 tablets, while Walmart (WMT) charged $8.23 and Walgreens $15.49. A bottle of Basic Care laxatives cost $7.39, compared to $8.04 at Walmart and $11.99 at CVS. [...]

Amazon is also trying to convince the medical community to buy commonly used products -- such as rubber gloves, syringes, gauze, surgical gowns, stethoscopes and dental bibs -- from its AmazonBusiness site, which launched three years ago. It brought on Chris Holt, who has long worked in the health care supply chain field, to lead the health care initiative. In addition to employing a sales team, the division has been attending industry conferences and events to raise its profile.

While this business line isn't as complex as pharmaceuticals, it still required Amazon to get licenses in various states before it could sell certain medical supplies. This set off a flurry of speculation that the company was moving one step closer to selling prescription drugs, but an Amazon spokesperson clarified that the licenses were for products, not medication.

Amazon is betting that those who buy supplies for medical practices -- as well as for educational and government offices -- will be comfortable shopping online. Its business site offers additional functions, such as allowing multiple users on a single account, requiring approvals from supervisors and enforcing spending limits. But it also allows users to quickly compare prices for a variety of vendors.

"We want to create an experience similar to the way people shop at home," said Lori Torerson, an Amazon spokeswoman.

Posted by at February 27, 2018 2:38 PM

  

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