Speculation continues surrounding Amazon, UPS, and pharmacy

Companies have obtained pharmacy licenses but have not taken further action

On October 27, 2017, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Amazon had received approval from 12 state boards of pharmacy for wholesale pharmacy licenses. The article has fueled media speculation about Amazon potentially entering the pharmacy market, but a spokesperson for Amazon told Pharmacy Today, “We have a longstanding practice of not commenting on rumors and speculation.”

Amazon has received wholesale pharmacy licenses from Nevada, Arizona, North Dakota, Louisiana, Alabama, New Jersey, Michigan, Connecticut, Idaho, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Tennessee, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch report. However, this does not necessarily mean Amazon is interested in dispensing and shipping prescription drugs, as the licenses are for distributing medical–surgical equipment and other devices, according to a report on CNBC on November 22, 2017.

According to Marcus Watt, RPh, executive director of the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, Amazon has three Wholesaler Class III licenses with the state. “However, a Class III Wholesaler is limited to the distribution of veterinary drugs, medical devices with no drug, medical oxygen, and certain I.V. drugs. The license that Amazon holds only allows them to distribute the above items to purchasers in Oregon. Amazon’s license does not allow them to possess or distribute other human drugs or medications, including over-the-counter medications.”

Meanwhile, CNBC and other media outlets have reported that UPS has acquired a manufacturing pharmacy license in Georgia. This would enable UPS to both ship and relabel drugs under the UPS brand, CNBC reported.