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'Business as usual' at Celesio, vows McKesson boss after takeover

BusinessChief executive John Hammergren says the objective of the US healthcare giant's £5bn acquisition is growth, not “consolidating facilities and eliminating jobs”

It will be "business as usual" for Lloydspharmacy and AAH parent company Celesio, new owner McKesson has pledged in the wake of its £5 billion buyout.

US healthcare giant McKesson said it did not expect to make any changes to Celesio's "terrific management team" or organisational structures in a press briefing following the deal's announcement yesterday (October 24).

The objective of the deal, which will see Celesio become part of McKesson's distribution solutions division by 2015, was growth – not "consolidating facilities and eliminating jobs", vowed McKesson chairman and chief executive John Hammergren.

McKesson's chief executive John Hammergren said US healthcare giant did not expect to make any changes to Celesio's "terrific management team" or organisational structures

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Mr Hammergren voiced support for Celesio's current strategy to grow services beyond dispensing in Lloydspharmacy branches, and said McKesson planned to accelerate existing business initiatives.

"There will probably be some things we will do differently in relation to global sourcing and product procurement, but other than that it will be business as usual," Mr Hammergren said.

But he suggested Europe could learn from the US in the use of patient data. "One of the big strategies… that I think we can bring to Europe is data connectivity, so that the financial and clinical relationship with the patient is more transparent and more connected between the various care providers that are there," Mr Hammergren said.

C+D readers posting on the website questioned whether the deal, which came a year after US company Walgreens took a 45 per cent stake in Boots, would move the UK closer to the American healthcare model.

"Is everything going to be privatised and follow the American health model?" asked a community pharmacist posting as OJ.

Community pharmacist John Randell argued greater privatisation could bring benefits to pharmacists.

"It will mean more money in pharmacists' pockets, since people will have to pay for their medication [in] cash and we won't have to wait months to be paid by the NHS," he said.

But locum pharmacist Chris said this could result in pharmacists "fighting over a dwindling pool of jobs for less and less pay".

"Even if patients are paying, we will be collecting on behalf of monolithic entities," he posted.

Together, Celesio and McKesson will have more than 80,000 employees and predicted annual revenues of more than £92.6bn ($150bn). The companies expect to make annual savings of between £170 million ($275m) and £201m ($325m) in the fourth year of the deal.

How will the McKesson deal affect UK pharmacies?

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