Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Walgreens eyes pharmacy divest

Illustration of a pharmacy script presented as a bill with change on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Walgreens is mulling a sale of its pharmacy automation business iA, which could fetch up to $2 billion, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The future of pharmacy services is murky, with Walgreens, CVS and Amazon all pursuing disparate strategies.

Details: Walgreens is working with advisers and expects to launch a process next month, per Bloomberg.

  • Indianapolis-based iA offers automation software solutions helping pharmacies fill prescriptions.

Catch up fast: Walgreens took a majority stake in iA from a consortium of PE firms for $451 million in 2021.

State of play: Walgreens, CVS and Amazon have made clear their intent to own primary care. Their strategies around pharmacy are less obvious.

  • CVS just acquired MedAvail's SpotRx pharmacies in certain cities in Arizona, California and Florida, seeming to double down on its commitment.
  • Meanwhile, Amazon has made piecemeal moves, initially disrupting the industry with its $750 million acquisition of PillPack in 2018 and this week launching RxPass, a monthly prescription drug pass.

What they're saying: Antonio Ciaccia, a pharmacy sector analyst and the CEO of research firm 46brooklyn, called a possible iA divest "a surprising move."

  • Automation has become increasingly important in pharmacy, and there's value to owning the asset in-house, Ciaccia says.
  • "Especially given some of the internal issues Walgreens and all pharmacy chains have had related to staffing, it would seem that this would be a need rather than something to sell off," he continues.

Walgreens declined to comment.

Go deeper