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Is (AMZN) About To Bust Into Healthcare? FDA Reveals Meeting With The Online Retailer

8/25/2014 6:17:44 AM

Is About To Bust Into Healthcare? FDA Reveals Meeting With The Online Retailer Is About To Bust Into Healthcare? FDA Reveals Meeting With The Online Retailer

August 25, 2014

By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Rumors are flying that Amazon may be breaking into the healthcare market. That’s all they are, really, but are based on a meeting held recently between Amazon executives and top FDA officials.

On July 22, Amazon executives met with Howard Sklamberg, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for global regulatory operations and policy, along with other unnamed FDA leadership. This information was made available on the FDA’s public calendar. Nobody directly involved with the meeting has anything to say on the meetings and it has been noted that there have also been meetings between Google and Apple executives with the FDA this year as well.

An attorney with Epstein Becker & Green, Bradley Merrill Thompson, a member of a panel that advises the FDA on health information technology (HIT) regulations, was willing to speculate on the Modern Healthcare blog. Thompson speculated that the meeting had “something to do with the retail distribution of FDA-regulated products, and that the company needs some sort of change in policy to do whatever it is they have in mind doing. Amazon is always so creative that they tend to enter markets in a big way, disrupting existing business models.”

Other sources speculate that the meeting might have something to do with Amazon wanting to enter into the mobile health and wearable health market, especially given Amazon’s recent offering of a smartphone, the Amazon Fire Phone.
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It has also been pointed out that Amazon already has its fingers into healthcare (and nearly everything else) with its cloud computing services, Amazon Web Services. Amazon, whose business practices are often accused of being predatory, has been in a pricing war for Web services with Google. In March 2014 Google merged several cloud computing services and made price cuts of 68% for most customers. Amazon Web Services, which had already cut its prices four times since 2008, responded with major price cuts of its own. This has put data storage companies like Box and Hightail and Dropbox on edge.

Box, for instance, recently hired specialists in health care, media, entertainment, hospitality and retail and offers a HIPAA compliant data sharing service. There are certainly a wide range of areas in healthcare that Amazon could go, ranging from mail delivery of drugs and medical devices, laboratory test offerings, web-based healthcare data storage and delivery, or medical devices. However, recently Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for global public policy, complained to the House Energy & Commerce Committee that HIPAA regulations for privacy inhibit healthcare delivery, and argued that Amazon had no current access to encrypted health information, but were required to meeting HIPAA regulations anyway.

If Amazon is really going to enter the healthcare space in a big way, it’s clear that Google, Amazon and other tech companies will be paying attention.

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