"PillPack's visionary team has a combination of deep pharmacy experience and a focus on technology", says Jeff Wilke, Amazon CEO Worldwide Consumer.
But today's deal comes with few details and no promise that Amazon will be able to scale up PillPack's business, which earned about $100 million in 2017.
Founded out of Boston in 2013, PillPack invites customers to sign up online, and the company then dispatches "over-the-counter" and prescription medications in individual packs organized by date and time.
Importantly for Amazon, PillPack already has mail-order pharmacy licenses in all 50 USA states, which could enable Amazon to expand quickly into the broader mail-order pharmacy business.
The company's board authorized a $10 billion stock buyback, a hefty sum given the $65.7 billion market cap at Wednesday's close. Losses in Walgreens Boots Alliance, CVS, and Rite Aid exceeded 10% at their worst, with almost $15 billion of market value wiped out.
Last year, Amazon gained approval from a number of state pharmaceutical boards to become a wholesale distributor, according to media reports.
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The announcement confirmed earlier speculation that Amazon was interested in expanding into healthcare.
"This provides an avenue for Amazon to disrupt major pharmacy chains the way that they've disrupted booksellers, pet supplies, clothing and other big-box retailers", said Lisa Bielamowicz, president of consultancy Gist Healthcare.
"When Amazon sneezes, everybody else catches a cold", said Joseph Feldman, an analyst with Telsey Advisory.
The reasoning is simple: Amazon has a ton of cash and an unparalleled logistical network, and when it looks poised to enter or expand its position in a market, traders get scared and bail out of holdings in competing companies.
Now tell us what you think! It's raised more than $118 million from brand-name investors including Accel, Sherpa Capital and NY rapper Nas's Queensbridge Venture Partners.
On its own, PillPack had raised $118 million in funding from venture capital firms and has been valued at $360 million. The companies said the deal would have to clear regulatory hurdles before it is complete.