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Hand holding an of a Pillpack personalized shipment.

PharmD Alumnus Joins Forces with Amazon

  • When TJ Parker first founded PillPack, a Boston-based pharmaceutical start-up, he was an MCPHS PharmD alumnus with one clear goal: to simplify the end-to-end process of managing medications.

    PillPack's system of operations was perfectly designed to do just that. By shipping packages of personalized medication (organized by each prescription's dosage) directly to patients' homes, the company effectively streamlined the medication administration and adherence process.

    "We believe that simple, convenient service empowers regular people to take their medications correctly and achieve better overall health," Parker said in an interview with MCPHS.

    The inspiration for this innovative medication management system came from Parker's own experience. A second generation pharmacist, Parker worked with his father, Leon Parker, BSP '79, at his drug store in Concord, New Hampshire as a teenager. He delivered medications to people's homes and quickly realized how many patients struggle to manage multiple prescriptions, all with different containers, instructions, and labels. He even used magic markers to label the bottles for one patient.

    Following in his father's footsteps, he went on to attend MCPHS and earn his Doctor of Pharmacy. During this time, he workshopped his plan for PillPack, which he eventually launched at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology hack-a-thon.

    PillPack's mission and operational efficiency caught the eyes of numerous investors and buyers, all of whom wanted to be in on the ground floor of a company positioned to revolutionize the field of pharmacy.

    Ultimately, Parker elected to find a new home for PillPack within the e-commerce giant Amazon, which bought the start-up for $753 million. Amazon was looking to diversify their portfolio and would provide the strong financial backing and business know-how needed to make PillPack a household name.

    "We’re thrilled to share that @amazon has agreed to acquire PillPack. Together, we will continue making it easy for customers to save time, simplify their lives, and feel healthier. We’re excited for our future together," the company said on Twitter.

    The acquisition of PillPack comes at a time when the industry is undergoing drastic change, and represents a big move by Amazon to enter—and disrupt—the pharmacy business. In fact, shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance, CVS Health, and Rite Aid plunged after the initial deal was announced, while Amazon's stocks rose nearly 2.5 percent, adding more than $19.8 billion in market value.

    Now, with PillPack holding licenses to ship prescriptions across all 50 states, the company is well equipped to help patients nationwide. And with Amazon providing corporate backing, and Parker retaining his title of CEO, PillPack's future is set on a trajectory toward global success.

    The full-time six-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at MCPHS–Boston prepares students for exciting and meaningful future careers in the field of pharmacy.