McKesson: how one of the world’s oldest pharmaceutical companies works
The U.S. pharmaceutical company McKesson is the world’s leading distributor of medical drugs through its own network of pharmacies. The capitalization of the business is estimated at more than 41 billion dollars, and revenues amount to about 232 billion dollars. The company employs 70,000 people.
McKesson has a rich history that began in 1833 when Charles Olcott and John McKesson started a business supplying medicinal plants in New York. After a while, the company expanded and a third partner, Daniel Robbins, joined the company. In 1926, the business was purchased by Frank Coster, who turned out to be a fraud and drove the firm into a serious crisis. To save the business, the company was taken over by Foremost Dairies, a manufacturer of dairy products. The new business became known as Foremost-McKesson, and its scope of activities extended beyond the sale of medical drugs and dairy products. The firm was also engaged in the production of alcohol, building materials, and chemicals.In 1976 a pasta manufacturer and an onion and garlic processor joined the company. In addition, within 10 years a number of representatives of the pharmaceutical industry were bought. At the same time, divisions in some other sectors were gradually reduced. By the 1990s, McKesson had focused almost entirely on supplying medicines. The company has offices in various countries, including Canada and Germany.
Like most large corporations, McKesson was repeatedly involved in scandals. One of them was the opioid epidemic in the U.S., which was blamed on pharmaceutical companies. In 2008, the U.S. government imposed a $13 million fine on McKesson for the corporation’s failure to notify authorities about large shipments of hydrocodone. A similar situation occurred in 2017, then McKesson had to pay $150 million. In the same year, the company was sued over the illegal sale of a substance that is used for capital punishment.
Last year, McKesson and several other companies, including Johnson & Johnson, paid a $26 billion fine to close the lawsuit.
The company has about 30 percent of the prescription drug market in the U.S. and Canada. Its network of pharmacies in Canada and Europe includes 10,500 locations, including those operated through franchises under the Health Mart brand. In addition to drugs, McKesson manufactures and supplies instruments and equipment for surgical manipulations.