CVS Health said on Monday that it would begin offering next-day delivery of prescription drugs and same-day service in some big cities next year, reflecting the company’s worries about potential competition from Amazon.
CVS Health also said its retail sales declined in the third quarter of this year, a dip that the company said occurred because of the three major hurricanes that forced many stores to close.
Amazon’s possible expansion into prescription drugs has set the pharmacy industry on edge in recent months, igniting fears that the online behemoth will upend the existing business in much the same way that it has disrupted other consumer markets, from books to household supplies to groceries.
Amazon has not publicly announced its plans. But it has acquired several state-level permits to be a wholesale pharmacy distributor over the past year and recently hired a handful of executives from the drug industry.
Anxiety over such a market upheaval is said to have partly driven CVS to enter into talks with Aetna, the large health insurer, over a potential acquisition. Larry Merlo, the president and chief executive of CVS Health, did not discuss the potential deal in a call with analysts on Monday.
Free delivery will be available “within hours” for prescription drug orders, as well as a “curated selection of over-the-counter products” in Manhattan beginning Dec. 4, the company said. Same-day delivery would expand to Miami, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco early next year. Next-day delivery, from local stores, would become available in the rest of the country.
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