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Amazon might be more interested in medical devices than pharmaceuticals, one analyst says

  • Wells Fargo pointed out that Amazon now owns the AmazonRX.com domain.
  • Jefferies analyst Brian Tanquilut wrote on Friday that he suspects Amazon is growing its professional medical device business.
  • CNBC reported in May that each year, Amazon holds an annual meeting to discuss whether it should break into the pharmacy market, and this year it's been more serious than ever.

Amazon is shaking the medical industry — and now Wall Street's digging up clues on exactly what it has planned.

Jefferies analyst Brian Tanquilut wrote on Friday that he suspects Amazon is growing its professional medical device business, while Wells Fargo pointed out Thursday that Amazon now owns the AmazonRX.com domain.

It's all part of the tea-leaf reading as investors try to understand how Amazon could disrupt a huge and historically difficult-to-break-into industry.

CNBC reported in May that each year, Amazon holds an annual meeting to discuss whether it should break into the pharmacy market, and this year, it's been more serious than ever.

Now, sources have said that CVS Health is in talks to buy Aetna — a deal that would be an unprecedented mega-merger between a top drugstore chain and insurer. RBC Capital Markets analyst George Hill told CNBC that the companies "needed to defend the business from encroachment by Amazon."

The news roiled pharmaceutical stocks, while Amazon shares are at all-time highs.

According to Tanquilut, Amazon's business-to-business medical device web page was posted during the same period the company was granted wholesale distribution licenses in several states. The licensure was first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

An Amazon spokesperson previously told CNBC by email that the company doesn't "comment on rumors or speculation."

While many have speculated these licenses could be used for drugs, Tanquilut said the timing could indicate Amazon is more interested in medical devices.

"[T]he out-of-state wholesaler license that AMZN filed with the state of Nevada revealed that AMZN did not select 'Controlled Substances' as a type of product that they would be handling," Tanquilut wrote in a Friday research note."While we acknowledge that there are prescription drugs that don't fall under the definition of 'controlled substances', the active decision to choose not to distribute those types of drugs leads us to believe that AMZN will not be using these licenses to distribute any prescription drugs[.]"

On the other hand, Wells Fargo analyst David Maris pointed out that AmazonRX.com redirects to the Amazon home page.

"We find it easy to envision that, if it entered pharmacy, Amazon could offer unique value to some customers, such as the easier ability to manage prescriptions and perhaps discounts, such as free generics to Prime users," Maris wrote. Overall, we think that even though Amazon has not stated a goal to be in pharmacy, history has shown it is better to consider Amazon's disruptive potential beforehand rather than afterward."

— CNBC's Christina Farr, Dan Mangan, Evelyn Cheng and Thomas Franck contributed to this report.