Just over a year after buying online pharmacy PillPack for $753 million, Amazon is engaged in a bitter battle with an incumbent player in the pharmacy industry, which sources tell CNBC is working behind the scenes to prevent the company from accessing important patient data.
PillPack’s pharmacy delivery service relies on its access to an accurate list of its patients’ medications, so it can properly inform them about health and safety risks, uncover any duplicate subscriptions and help them keep up with refills. That comprehensive data comes indirectly from Surescripts, an electronic-prescribing company that’s owned by some of PillPack’s potential competitors, including CVS and Express Scripts.
According to two people familiar with the matter, PillPack was informed this week that it will soon be cut off from accessing that data via a third-party entity, ReMy Health — a move that could seriously complicate its business. Amazon is considering legal action against Surescripts to halt those efforts, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. One person told CNBC that PillPack has already sent a cease-and-desist letter to Surescripts.
It’s the latest in a string of disputes between Amazon and the established pharmacy companies since its purchase of PillPack in June 2018 — a deal that sent shares of pharmacy owners and pharmacy benefit managers tumbling. Last month, CVS filed a lawsuit against a former employee after he told the company he would be taking a job at PillPack. A judge blocked the employee from working for PillPack for 18 months.