Walgreens and Humana are reportedly in talks to take stakes in each other

  • Walgreens and Humana are reportedly in talks to take stakes in each other.
  • The talks reportedly include the possibility of expanding a clinic partnership.
  • Amazon has moved into both retail and health insurance, threatening incumbents.
A customer views merchandise for sale at a Walgreens store in the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Christopher Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A customer views merchandise for sale at a Walgreens store in the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance and health insurer Humana are in preliminary talks to take stakes in each other, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

The two are also in discussions about potentially expanding their current partnership that serves seniors, the report added. The report cautioned that such talks are preliminary, and there is no guarantee of a deal.

Shares of Walgreens were up less than 1 percent in trading after the market's close, while shares of Humana were unchanged.

The discussions are a sign of the disruption facing pharmacies and health insurance companies, as both industries face new pressures. Consumers can now get their household goods online and in convenience stores. The health-care industry is undergoing dramatic transformation amid regulatory scrutiny over rising costs.

Some competitors have already made their move. Amazon recently acquired online pharmacy PillPack. CVS Health last year announced its $69 billion acquisition of Aetna, which will combine CVS' pharmacy and pharmacy benefits manager platform with Aetna's insurance business.

Walgreens has been hoping to position itself as more of a broader health-care company helping to transform patient experience, while lowering costs. To this end Walgreen has been signing deals with a number of health-care companies including Humana and diagnostics company LabCorp.

It has also explored a number of options, including a potential deal with AmerisourceBergen. Talks with the wholesale drug distributor ended without an agreement last year.

Pharmacy sales account for almost 70 percent of Walgreens' U.S. revenue. In the less competitive international retail environment, Walgreens garners about 35 percent of its sales from its pharmacy.