Amazon joins online drug sales—what does it mean for the future of Canadian pharmacy?


Weeks ago, mammoth online retailer Amazon bought mail order pharmacy company PillPack in a billion dollar deal that caused competitors’ stocks to plummet.

After news emerged that Amazon had acquired the mail order pharmacy, which sends medication to people’s homes in 49 US states, pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Rite Aid collectively lost more than $11 billion in stock market value.

That deal south of the border left many Canadian pharmacists wondering what it means for them and the future of their businesses. In the Canadian market, mail order or home delivery pharmacy services are currently a small subset of the market—expected to be only about two per cent. But that trend is expected to shift in coming years, especially as big brands turn their focus to e-commerce.

Trends signal change

Due to heightened demand from consumers, in recent years major retailers in Canada have been working to join the prescription drug online retail market.

Recent examples include:

  • Express Scripts Canada establishing market presence with PBM integration
  • Costco partnering with Great West Life to offer a home delivery system
  • Sobeys and Loblaws working to introduce their own e-commerce platforms (with Ocado and Instacart, respectively)

And most notably, healthcare company McKesson recently purchased Rexall and — after multiples rounds of vertical integration years before, including acquiring Drug Trading (DT) and Medicine Shoppe.

As a pharmacy owner, what does this all mean?

The recent acquisition of PillPack, and similar changes in Canada, mean e-commerce and other technologies are necessary to stay relevant in the market, as the industry shifts.

Canadian independent pharmacy owners who want to thrive need to start enhancing services using technologies, like e-commerce, in order to meet the growing needs of the online consumer.

MEDSYNC® is a system that gives your pharmacy more opportunities for expanded services, including home delivery. We can help you streamline your pharmacy’s workflow and improve your bottom line.