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GoodRx CEO shrugs off $5B dive following Amazon pharmacy move

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 20, 2020

This photo from Oct. 1, 2020, shows an Amazon logo on a delivery van in Boston. Newly listed GoodRx Holdings lost about $5 billion in value two days after Amazon opened an online pharmacy on Tuesday.  (Associated Press)
This photo from Oct. 1, 2020, shows an Amazon logo on a delivery van in Boston. Newly listed GoodRx Holdings lost about $5 billion in value two days after Amazon opened an online pharmacy on Tuesday. (Associated Press)
By Cristin Flanagan </p><p>and Bailey Lipschultz Bloomberg

Newly listed GoodRx Holdings got caught in the crosshairs of Amazon.com’s latest plans to shake up the drug industry, triggering a wipeout of about $5 billion in market value in just two days. But its chief executive officer is shrugging it off.

The Santa Monica, California-based company, mostly known for its prescription-drug pricing app, plunged to a record low of $33.51 on Wednesday in the wake of Amazon’s plans to sell medicines to its U.S. Prime members.

GoodRx shares have rebounded more than 15% in the last two trading sessions, though the stock has still shed more than 30% of its value from an Oct. 6 high.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Douglas Hirsch dismissed some of the gloom. The business of mail orders for medicines is challenging, he said, and even with the pandemic and regional lockdowns, the number of Americans getting their medicines through the mail has lingered at around just 5%.

“Mail order is really hard. The road is littered with companies that tried to offer mail order,” Hirsch told Bloomberg News.

A handful of analysts and industry experts were ambivalent about the move, suggesting Amazon was joining the drug distribution channel but won’t fundamentally change it.

Amazon has so far only tapped Inside Rx, a unit of Cigna Corp.’s pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts as a partner. Amazon’s discount card may also just be a way for it to adhere to regulations around publishing drug prices, according to analysts at RBC Capital Markets.

Hirsch said GoodRx can survive the blow of increased competition because of the high barriers to entry for new players in the space. GoodRx’s relationships with most PBMs, as well Inside Rx, means it’s able to offer better pricing on medicines than most of Amazon’s cash discounts.

“They are our partner, it’s not a winner take all scenario,” said Hirsch, who noted you can also use a GoodRx card on Amazon.

Amazon representatives didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment.

Investor Eric Jackson, founder of EMJ Capital Ltd., agrees with Hirsch. He took a chance on this week’s rout and picked up shares of GoodRx for his hedge fund.

“On day one, Amazon announces that the Death Star is coming in to kill the business and the stock collapses and people panic,” Jackson said. “Looking back, it turns out to be a great buying opportunity from those kind of blood-in-the-streets type moments and I think this will be the same for their GoodRx.”

The tech-focused hedge fund manager pointed to similar competitive fears for Twilio Inc. and Roku Inc.

Twilio has surged more than 1,000% since September 2017 when investors fled the stock on Amazon’s promise to offer similar texting features as the cloud computing company. Roku has advanced more than 260% after a double-threat from Apple and Amazon last year.

“I’ve seen this movie before many times: Amazon is going to kill company X,” Jackson said. “It rarely works out.”

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