Watch out commuity pharmacy – Amazon is looking for its next move
Hot on the heels of the news that Amazon has opened its first till-free, walk-in-walk-out store in London – with many more to follow, the global smooth operator now has its eyes on the UK pharmacy sector.
Amazon is stepping up its plans to break into the online pharmacy industry in the UK in a move that will concern high street chemists and compete with a Glasgow-based operator.
The US giant has already disrupted the $312 billion (£215 billion) prescription drugs market in America and in January 2020 it filed a trademark for the name “Amazon Pharmacy” in the UK, Canada and Australia – although the registration is said to be “under examination” by the UK Intellectual Property Office.
Pharmacy organisations have raised concerns while the move will be of interest to Scottish company Phlo which is expanding its online drugs delivery business in England.
Nadeem Sarwar set up the digital pharmacy business in 2019 after seeing how the model worked in the US – then he set about raising £1.7m in a crowdfunded effort last year, stating that the company had “a unique chance to do something amazing in the pharmacy space during 2021.”
The firm has established a firm foothold in London and is planning expansion into Manchester and Birmingham. Its clients are entirely in England as the electronic prescription service that it uses is not available in Scotland.
Although the electronic ordering format is not yet available in Northern Ireland or Scotland it’s only a matter of time.
Amazon acquired US online pharmacy business PillPack in 2018, outbidding Wal-Mart. Amazon Pharmacy could also move into the medical and dental instruments and surgical markets.
For Amazon to operate its own pharmacy in England, it will need to be included in NHS England’s pharmaceutical list of pharmacies – assuming it wants to provide NHS services.