Dec 16, 2021 - Health

Scoop: Amazon Pharmacy leaders demoted

Two people with crossed arms standing next to each other.

TJ Parker (left) and Elliot Cohen in 2015. Photo: Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Amazon Pharmacy leaders TJ Parker and Elliot Cohen have quietly been demoted to roles as consultants for the company, two sources familiar with the matter tell Axios. 

Why it matters: The leadership shakeup could either be an attempt at hammering out a clearer path forward or a sign of deeper troubles. Parker and Cohen have steered Amazon Pharmacy since 2018 when the tech giant acquired PillPack, their prescription drug startup. 

Driving the news: Neil Lindsay, the former head of Amazon Prime, has stepped in to oversee Pharmacy and Amazon Care, CNBC reported.

  • All Amazon Pharmacy employees who reported to Parker, who had been a VP, will now report to Amazon Alexa VP John Love, according to one source.
  • "I'm proud of everything the PillPack team has built since joining Amazon,” says Parker in an emailed statement, adding that he and Cohen are looking forward to working with Lindsay and the team on their broader vision.

Between the lines: High-level staff changes don’t typically occur at Amazon during peak fulfillment and delivery season, which generally runs from Thanksgiving to the first week of January. 

  • Despite acquiring PillPack nearly four years ago, Amazon Pharmacy's share of the overall prescription drug market remains in the single digits, overshadowed by established pharmacy companies like CVS and Walgreens.

What they're saying: Several sector analysts say if Amazon Pharmacy wants to change its trajectory, it will need to identify a core customer and clear go-to-market strategy.

  • Adam J. Fein, CEO of the Drug Channels Institute, tells Axios that "unless Amazon makes a large acquisition or embarks on a truly novel strategy, its overall share of the prescription dispensing market will remain in the low single digits."

After publication, an Amazon spokesperson contacted Axios to say that the change was not a demotion, as Parker and Cohen will be staying on to help with the company's broader healthcare vision.

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