Long-Dreaded Amazon.com Threat to Drug Middlemen Draws Close

A day that prescription-drug middlemen had long feared finally arrived.

The industry awoke to the news Tuesday that Amazon.com Inc. was joining with Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to form a new health-care business, in an attempt by three of the world’s best-known companies to contain the spiraling cost of keeping their U.S. workers healthy.

Other groups of big employers have tried to improve worker health care in the past, but none have dethroned the pharmacy-benefit managers who drug companies and some lawmakers claim aren’t transparent about the pricing deals they strike on behalf of health plans, and about how much money they keep for themselves.

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