CVS Chief to Amazon: Bring It On!

Larry Merlo says that anything Amazon can do in health care, CVS can do better.

Amazon? He don’t care about no stinkin’ Amazon. Larry Merlo, the CEO of CVS, tells Stat that he’s not concerned with Amazon’s foray into health care, which includes the recent purchase of PillPack, an online pharmacy. More famously, Amazon also joined with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway in a much-touted effort to transform the health care system.

Details of that effort have been scant, to say the least, and the biggest announcement to come out about it so far was the appointment of Atul Gawande, MD, a nationally known health care expert, as CEO. You’d expect such an undertaking to be 24/7, but Gawande still maintains his surgical practice and writes insightful articles for the New Yorker magazine.

Merlo tells Stat that “the health care industry can and must be transformed from within itself. I think it’s going to be very, very difficult for someone that isn’t in health care.”

CVS is in the process of purchasing Aetna for $69 billion, a deal that the Justice Department approved but that is still being examined by the courts.

Merlo adds that he isn’t concerned about anything else Amazon might attempt. “If we’re doing our job, if we’re doing our job well, [Amazon] will end up offering the same services that we already provide,” Merlo tells Stat. “And, yes, they’ll be another competitor, but they won’t offer anything new that isn’t already offered, you know, by CVS.”