Maine has canceled Amazon’s applications to become a pharmaceuticals wholesaler, according to state officials.
The retail giant’s applications were canceled because they did not contain all the required information, and no action had been taken by the applicant to complete them, according to Anne Head, the head of the state Department of Professional & Financial Regulation, which oversees the Maine Board of Pharmacy and all pharmaceutical licensing matters.
The online sales company had submitted three pharmaceutical applications in October – all three expired on Friday, Dec. 1, according to the board’s online license check.
Amazon would not comment on its Maine applications, or its future sales plans in the health care field.
A spokeswoman would only say that wholesale licenses are required for Amazon to sell professional products to health care customers, like medical and dental offices or hospitals. She referred a reporter to the company’s Amazon Business website, which features photos of a fetal heart monitor, ear thermometers and dental tools with marketing aimed at licensed medical or dental professionals.
Analysts are trying to decide whether Amazon merely stumbled and missed a local deadline, or if Amazon abandoned the license applications because it realized they were unnecessary if all it wants to sell are medical devices, not pharmaceuticals.
In Maine, selling drugs, even on a wholesale basis, would require a license, but not selling medical supplies.
In a note to investor clients, Portland-based RBC Capital Markets cited Amazon’s abandonment of the license process in Maine as a sign that Amazon plans to pursue medical supplies sales, not drug sales, to consumers.
Amazon has similar licenses in 15 states across the country, and in some, like Tennessee and Indiana, the company specifically told pharmacy regulators there that it does not plan to sell or ship drugs, according to records in those states.
This “supplies only” reading of the Maine license situation is good news for pharmacy companies that would have faced Amazon competition, RBC told its investors.
Amazon has been steadily expanding its business-to-business online sales service since launching Amazon Business two years ago, having suppliers list their products, including clothing, electronics and food, for sale online with Amazon. Now, according to applications filed with other states, Amazon appears poised to enter the medical supplies field by offering devices manufactured by specialty companies for sale to professionals online.
Although its population is small, Maine’s status as the state with the oldest average age in the country, as well as its rural character, could make it attractive to Amazon, should it decide to jump into the prescription drug market. But in order to distribute prescription drugs, Amazon would first need to establish connections with pharmacy benefits managers and health insurers.
Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6463 or at: