Health, Fitness & Food

Retail giant Amazon‘s expansion into health care has already begun, but there’s a lot more room for it to grow, Loop Capital Markets’ Anthony Chukumba told CNBC on Tuesday.

Chukumba said on “The Exchange” that he sees $72 billion of potential for Amazon through continued health-care expansion, which accelerated in 2018 when it purchased online pharmaceutical firm PillPack for roughly $753 million.

“We think there are a lot of opportunities for Amazon in the health-care space,” the retail analyst said, arguing there are three main areas for the Seattle-based company to target.

The first is adding to its pharmaceutical business, he said. In addition to offering home delivery of prescriptions, he said, Amazon could look to further acquisitions, such as buying drugstore chain Rite Aid.

The second would be federal health-care programs Medicare and Medicaid, specifically through what Chukumba called “lifestyle management.”

“Basically, having people living healthier lifestyles, which cuts costs,” he said.

To accomplish that, he suggested, Amazon could develop healthy, tailored meals that it sends through the mail.

He also argued that home health-care services through its voice assistant Alexa could be another place to expand.

“In other words, ‘Alexa, I have flu symptoms. What should I do?’ Or, ‘Alexa, I’ve fallen and can’t get up,'” Chukumba said.

It could also bring health-care services to consumers through clinics at Whole Foods or its soon-to-be-launched grocery chain, Chukumba said.

“On the technology space, they’re already a big player, and we think they could further exploit those opportunities as well,” he said.

Chukumba’s suggestions on where Amazon could expand its health-care operation come weeks after CNBC reported the company was launching a virtual health clinic with in-home follow-ups for employees in Seattle.

In addition to acquiring PillPack in 2018, Amazon partnered that year with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway on an initiative to address rising health-care expenses, without sacrificing quality, for their combined 1.2 million employees.

Amazon, like other Big Tech firms, has increasingly faced questions over its market power, but Chukumba said he thinks each health-care expansion opportunity would need to be scrutinized individually.

“In terms of the pharmacy opportunity, by buying PillPack they already have licenses to distribute drugs in pretty much every U.S. state so there’s really no regulatory issue there,” he said.

Amazon Web Services also has a strong foothold in health care, Chukumba said, so he doesn’t think any efforts to expand its technology presence would be restricted.

“There may be some regulatory issues in terms of some of the Medicare, Medicaid, lifestyle management solutions that we have, but we don’t think they’d be significant, quite frankly,” he said.

Amazon and Rite Aid did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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