Amazon loses PillPack founder 4 years after takeover

With Amazon Pharmacy, Prime customers in the US can have their prescription drugs delivered to their home for free.

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Two Amazon executives who played a formative role in the retail giant’s push into healthcare are leaving the company.

TJ Parker and Elliot Cohen, co-founders of prescription drug startup PillPack, will be leaving Amazon later this month, according to a post on Parker’s LinkedIn profile. Amazon bought PillPack for about $750 million in 2018.

After the acquisition, Parker and Cohen helped launch Amazon Pharmacy, the company’s online prescription drug delivery pharmacy in the United States. Both Parker and Cohen served as vice presidents of pharmacy until recently, when they were promoted to advisory roles, Axios reported.

“I’m writing to let you all know that Elliot and I are moving away from PillPack and Amazon at the end of the month,” Parker wrote. “Of all, it is the people we met along the way and who have joined us on this journey that we will remember most fondly and will miss you all.”

Parker and Cohen co-founded PillPack in 2013. Parker, whose father was a pharmacist, attended pharmacy school in Boston. He met Cohen, who was in the business school at MIT. PillPack began serving customers in 2014, and Parker’s father joined as one of the company’s first pharmacists.

Amazon has accelerated its push into healthcare in recent years, though not all of its efforts have been successful. The pharmacy business has struggled to gain a foothold, and Amazon recently announced it was shutting down its Amazon Care telemedicine service after determining it wasn’t a “complete enough offering” for customers.

Earlier last year, a joint venture Amazon formed with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to reduce health care costs dissolved. The company’s name was Haven, and its initially anticipated entry into the healthcare market caused vendor stocks to plummet.

Still, Amazon invests significant capital and resources in the space. In July, Amazon announced it would acquire One Medical for $3.9 billion and launch a network of boutique primary care clinics. Amazon also operates a consumer diagnostics venture.

Amazon had restructured its healthcare leadership prior to Parker and Cohen’s departure. Last December, CNBC reported the company hired its former Prime boss, Neil Lindsay, to oversee its health care efforts. John Love, who previously served as vice president of Amazon’s Alexa division, was named vice president of Pharmacy and PillPack in January.

In a memo to the health services team on Monday, Lindsay called Parker and Cohen’s departure “bittersweet” and thanked the PillPack founders for their help in developing the strategy “to improve healthcare for customers.”

“Driven by her vision and customer obsession, PillPack’s business and capabilities became the foundation of Amazon Pharmacy,” Lindsay wrote.

CLOCK: Amazon launches online pharmacy in the US

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