McKesson commits $3.1 billion to acquire Canadian pharmacies and US oncology services

Canada's Rexall chain, plus Biologics, Inc, and Vantage Oncology

McKesson, the No. 1 distributor in the US, is enlarging its retail-related activities in Canada (where it is also a dominant distributor), as well as expanding the McKesson Specialty Health business unit with tuck-ins of Biologics, Inc. and Vantage Oncology. The latter represents an extension of another McKesson Specialty Health property, US Oncology, which partners with community oncology organizations to provide organizational management and care coordination. Vantage partners with 50 cancer centers in 13 states.

The Rexall Health acquisition, for C$3 billion (US$1.9 billion, after currency conversion and accounting for taxation differences) was obtained from Katz Group, a privately held business conglomerate. It will bring approximately 470 pharmacies into the McKesson fold, and grow McKesson’s employment base in Canada to 13,000 employees. The Rexall brand will be retained. McKesson also operates an independent-pharmacy franchise chain in the US, Health Mart.

“Canada’s healthcare environment is rapidly evolving; it is marked by a move of primary care into pharmacy and increasingly complex patient demand. With today’s announcement, McKesson will bring together the strengths and expertise of our diverse portfolio to address challenges and opportunities in delivering the very best patient care,” said John Hammergren, McKesson CEO.

McKesson Specialty Health is already a major player in the US specialty distribution business and, following its acquisition of US Oncology several years ago, is a major player in providing distribution and practice-management services to community oncology centers. With the acquisition of Biologics, the largest independent, oncology-focused specialty pharmacy in the US, McKesson’s Is adding to its specialty pharmacy services in this area. McKesson is paying $1.2 billion for the Vantage and Biologics acquisitions.