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More evidence emerges for Amazon's push into pharmacy industry

The e-commerce giant has obtained pharmaceutical distribution licenses in 12 US states.


Is selling prescription drugs Amazon's next move?

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

New evidence emerged Friday that Amazon may have its sights set on the drug industry. 

According to public records dug up by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Amazon has obtained approval to be a wholesale distributor of pharmaceuticals in 12 states: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon and Tennessee. There is also a pending application for the state of Maine.

CNBC reported earlier this month that Amazon was looking to enter the health care and pharmacy industry. Amazon had declined to comment on the story.

It's still not clear what Amazon's plans may be. According to the Post-Dispatch report, the wholesale distributor licenses don't allow Amazon to offer prescription drugs or medical devices directly to customers. It would need a pharmacy license to do that.

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In addition, certain states require wholesale licenses from retailers in order to sell professional-use medical devices, something Amazon already does through its health care product portal. These filings can be unrelated to the selling of prescription drugs.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company doesn't comment "on rumors or speculation."

If its end goal is to be able to sell prescription drugs, it still has a lot of regulatory hoops to jump through. It's also unclear if the company will partner with an existing third-party pharmaceutical management company or develop those capabilities in-house.

Aside from making moves in the health care industry, Amazon is adding new changes to its delivery methods. On Wednesday, it introduced Amazon Key, which allows Prime members to unlock their front doors and allow a delivery worker to place packages inside customers' homes and apartments.