Adding to its clout in specialty care, McKesson wins bid for U.S. Oncology

SAN FRANCISCO In a big boost to its growing specialty pharmacy operation, drug-distribution and health services giant McKesson today revealed it has bought U.S. Oncology for $2.16 billion in cash and assumed debt.

Both companies said the deal should close by the end of McKesson’s third quarter on Dec. 31. When finalized, said company officials, it will merge McKesson’s strengths in healthcare services and information technology with U.S. Oncology’s expertise in clinical care, along with what it calls "the largest community-based cancer treatment and research network in America." The combined organization, said McKesson, "will focus on providing a comprehensive offering of solutions for the oncology industry, one of the fastest-growing segments in healthcare."

Following the merger, McKesson’s combined Specialty Care Solutions business will be led by U.S. Oncology CEO Bruce Broussard, who will report to McKesson executive VP and group president Paul Julian. The new operation will be based in The Woodlands, Texas, with additional offices in McKesson’s home city of San Francisco and other locations throughout the country.

It will deliver, in McKesson’s words, "a best-in-class oncology program, clinical tools, guidelines and care pathways that will create a leader in evidence-based medicine backed by a deep team of clinical experts."

The new organization will initially serve a base of some 3,000 oncologists, spurring what the company said will be accelerated investments in integrated systems and clinical programs to boost productivity, efficient delivery of care and improved patient outcomes.

"For U.S. Oncology customers, they’re going to get a world-class distributor," said McKesson chairman and CEO John Hammergren. "And for McKesson customers, they’re going to get a world-class oncology operations company."

Hammergren called the acquisition "the next step in our involvement in oncology."

"Clearly U.S. Oncology has a significant amount of technology, and has the world’s leading physicians using the world’s state-of-the-art thinking around clinical care," he added. "They’ve driven efficiency in their practices, but perhaps more importantly, they’ve been leading the practice of health care from an oncology perspective."

McKesson’s acquisition of the cancer-care giant will accelerate the consolidation of the specialty pharmacy market, predicted Adam Fein, PhD, founder and president of Pembroke Consulting. "After the U.S. Oncology acquisition, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen will now represent almost 80% of all specialty pharmaceutical distribution, which is the primary channel to market for office or clinic-based physicians," Fein noted today.

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