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Competition and Market Forces

Disruptive Innovation in Pharmacy: Lessons from the Amazon Frontier

  • 1Center on Drugs and Public Policy, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Behavioral Health Research Program, University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • 3Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • 4University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 5University Regional Partnerships, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Amazon Pharmacy is officially here. In November 2019, Amazon officially rebranded the virtual pharmacy startup PillPack as part of Amazon Pharmacy.1 It created a full-service online pharmacy, licensed to ship prescriptions in all 50 states in simple-to-use, prepackaged doses and proposing to provide “the best possible customer experience in the US for people who take multiple daily prescriptions.”2

How did a commerce platform succeed in positioning itself as a leading pharmacy? This development presents an opportunity for education and practice hubs to lead innovation and reshape health policy.

Amazon’s PillPack was poised to transform a market that was ripe for disruption through business model innovation by automating access to medications and engaging a less skilled workforce to deliver a lower-cost solution in an affordable, convenient, and accessible way. It created a value network by offering a stakeholder network platform, including drug manufacturers, insurers, and providers, that responds profitably to patients’ needs.

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