Amazon’s next healthcare venture may be in Japan

September 12, 2022: According to an article by Nicole Wetsman in MSN, Amazon is contemplating partnering with pharmacies in Japan to deliver medications beginning in 2023, according to a report from Nikkei.

The goal is for Amazon to build a platform where patients can get information about the drugs they have been prescribed and sign up to get those drugs furnished, Nikkei reported, based on interviews with unnamed sources concerned with the project. Amazon would not act as pharmacies itself — just provide the online system.

Amazon Japan refused to comment to Nikkei.

Individuals in Japan will be able to order prescriptions online after online doctor visits for the first time next year. Paramount pharmacies and other Japanese firms are also working on similar programs that would provide patients digital access to data on their medications, Nikkei conveyed.

Amazon has been interested in the pharmacy business in the US since 2018, when it obtained prescription delivery company PillPack. It founded its pharmacy, Amazon Pharmacy, in 2020.

The strategy Amazon seems to be taking in Japan — partnering with groups delivering meds to patients rather than those that provide care — is identical to how the company approaches other health areas. Last month, it revealed it was shutting down Amazon Care, the primary care business it foremost launched in 2019. It had recently informed the purchase of subscription-based primary care business One Medical, which is already a functioning healthcare business. The FTC is analyzing the deal.

It may make more sense for Amazon to add its tech to institutions with proven success in health rather than build health products from beginning, Brendan Keeler, a product manager at Zus Health and professional on healthcare data systems, briefed The Verge in August. The reported approach in Japan is in line with that vision. Amazon is already good at delivering items and connecting to customers — that might be all it needs to get a piece of the rapidly growing healthcare market.