Walgreens CEO Stefano PessinaReuters
  • Walgreens is reportedly in early takeover talks with AmerisourceBergen, a drug distributor, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
  • Walgreens already owns about 26% of the drug distributor. 
  • The talks come at a moment when healthcare companies are becoming more vertically integrated, owning more pieces of the healthcare pie.

One of America’s largest pharmacy businesses has reportedly approached one of the US’s largest drug distributors about a takeover, The Wall Street Journal reports

Representatives from Walgreens, which already owns 26% of AmerisourceBergen, reached out to representatives of the wholesaler several weeks ago, The Journal reported. 

AmerisourceBergen was up 15% on Monday night following the report. Walgreens declined to comment, while AmerisourceBergen said it’s company’s policy “not to discuss any rumors or speculation regarding potential mergers or acquisitions.”

AmerisourceBergen has a market cap of $20 billion as of Monday, while Walgreens’ market cap was $67.6 billion.

Three drug distributors  — AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health — distribute about 90% of the US’s medications to pharmacies and hospitals. The companies, along with pharmacies like Walgreens, have been feeling pressure from the potential that Amazon could be getting into healthcare.

The boundaries of the healthcare business are changing, with the acquisition of Aetna by CVS Health, hospitals getting into the generic drug business, and insurers starting to look a lot more like providers.

Instead of growing by acquiring other companies in the same business, companies have started to move into new lines of business, with no two combinations looking exactly the same. A Walgreens-AmerisourceBergen deal would fit into that changing picture. 

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