Amazon may be exploring a move into the $465 billion-a-year U.S. pharmaceutical market. It’s a market ripe for disruption but one difficult to enter, analysts say.

There have been some clues in recent Amazon moves. In November, the company launched a one-hour delivery service for non-prescription items from Bartell Drugs, a 127-year-old pharmacy chain based in Seattle, as part of its Prime Now offerings. Amazon frequently tests programs around Seattle where it can be hands-on with them.

Two months ago it hired Mark Lyons, a former executive with Washington state health plan Premera Blue Cross, to be a senior manager in its pharmacy benefits, a move first reported by CNBC.

Amazon has been holding an annual meeting on whether it should consider going into the pharmacy business for the last several years, the CNBC report said, citing unnamed sources. And it’s currently advertising for a professional health care program manager. It already has made moves to beef up its offerings in medical supplies, according to the company’s site.

Amazon declined comment.The company, which has upended the brick-and-mortar market for books, electronics and other goods, would pose a major competitive threat to existing heavyweights including Walgreens and CVS. But it wouldn’t be cheap or easy to break into the pharmacy market, analysts say.

All the major drug store companies, including CVS and Walgreens, already offer mail order delivery, though such programs have declined slightly due to consumer preference for face-to-face interaction with pharmacists, the note said.Other competition includes major players in the online prescription delivery field such as Express Scripts and United Health/OptumRX.

Source: Dayton Daily News