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Coming soon: Amazon Prime bags full of meds? Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon is contemplating opening physical pharmacy stores, including within its Whole Foods locations, Business Insider reports.

Reality check: Amazon still isn't disrupting the prescription drug industry. Amazon is maybe, possibly considering a way to capture a marginally bigger piece of the extremely small slice it has.

By the numbers: Amazon owns approximately 500 Whole Foods stores.

  • If Amazon built and staffed up pharmacies in each of those stores, along with some standalone pharmacies, its footprint would pale in comparison to the pharmacies owned by CVS Health (9,900), Walgreens (9,000), Walmart (5,000), Rite-Aid (2,500), Kroger (2,300) and other chains.
  • As we reported in 2018, after its purchase of online drug retailer PillPack, Amazon "will have to build or acquire more parts to make a big difference." More pharmacies, or a pharmacy benefit manager, would likely need to be next — if Amazon even proceeds with this direction.

What's clear: Amazon is playing within the rules of the current system.

  • Amazon contracts with PBMs and health insurers. But "Amazon does not necessarily have a significant cost advantage over other pharmacies," Adam Fein of the Drug Channels Institute wrote in November.
  • Even Amazon's drug-discount program is administered through one of the largest PBMs, and the program doesn't necessarily provide good deals for customers.

Go deeper

Sep 1, 2021 - Health

Report: U.S. has discarded over 15 million COVID vaccine doses since March

A nurse reaches for a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccine clinic in the Arleta neighborhood of Los Angeles. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has discarded at least 15.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since March 1, according to government data obtained by NBC News.

Why it matters: The data comes as the Delta variant spreads rapidly across the country, and after the Biden administration announced plans to roll out booster shots — renewing the need for an ample vaccine supply.

Sep 1, 2021 - Podcasts

Federal intervention in the school masking debate

The ongoing battle among local, state and federal officials over COVID precautions in schools continues. The U.S. Department of Education has now launched a civil rights investigation into five GOP-led states that have banned mask mandates in schools.

  • Plus, the return of evictions in America.
  • And, Amazon steps into the live audio business.

Guests: Axios' Ben Montgomery, Linh Ta, Felix Salmon and Sara Fischer.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Hope King, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, and Ben O'Brien. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.