Amazon, which seems to be taking over everything, has set it sights on becoming a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM). CNBC reports that the online retailer—you know, the site where you can buy practically anything—is exploring how to become a PBM. This is interesting. Everyday the outcry over the high cost of medications in this country grows louder, and the feeling that something needs to be done garners bipartisan support. PBMs, along with health insurers, have been under fire.
Enter Amazon. Mark Lyons, whose background includes being a pharmacy services manager at Premera Blue Cross in Washington has been hired by Amazon to investigate the feasibility of becoming a PBM.
The hurdle for Amazon, according to David Larsen an analyst at Leerink, will be convincing heath insurers that Amazon would be a viable PBM alternative. Larsen wrote investors that he finds it difficult to believe that Amazon could replace entrenched PBMs such as Express Scripts. “The PBM model requires very deep medical knowledge of how each drug interacts with other products and there are very deep and robust data systems that the PBMs have built that manage extraordinary amounts of data,” Larsen wrote.
Not everyone agrees. Stephen Buck is the cofounder of GoodRx, which tries to help people save on the price of prescriptions. He tells CNBC: “I think Amazon would introduce a lot of transparency to what drugs really cost.”