Amazon has a long standing interest in prescription drugs, an industry with multiple middlemen, long supply chains and opaque pricing. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Amazon has a long-standing interest in prescription drugs, an industry with multiple middlemen, long supply chains, and opaque pricing. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Amazon.com Inc. is almost certain to enter the business of selling prescription drugs by 2019, said two analysts at Leerink Partners, posing a direct threat to the U.S.’s biggest brick-and-mortar drugstore chains.

“It’s a matter of when, not if,” Leerink Partners analyst David Larsen said in a report to clients late Thursday. “We expect an announcement within the next 1-2 years.”

PBM THREAT

CVS declined to comment and referred to remarks made by its chief executive officer, Larry Merlo, on an earnings conference called on Aug. 8. The pharmacy business has “many barriers to entry,” Merlo said at the time. Walgreens declined to comment.

Amazon could quickly grow in prescription drug sales and distribution, especially if it bought a mid-sized drug benefits manager and used it to create a more transparent pricing model, said Linda Cahn, a consultant at Pharmacy Benefit Consultants in Morristown, New Jersey.

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