Our History

Spanning the Centuries for Better Health

McKesson took roots in the earliest days of the United States—when organized health care in America was just taking shape. Over the past 180+ years we have played a fundamental role in helping to shape the design and direction of health care: helping to set standards for the health care supply chain and playing a large role in our industry’s technology revolution.

Download a brief history of McKesson: A Heritage of Delivering Better Health (PDF, 9.8 MB).

  • 1830s

    Early Pioneers

    1833: Founded by John McKesson and Charles Olcott in New York City to import and sell therapeutic drugs and chemicals wholesale.

    1853: Renamed McKesson & Robbins, after a new partner, Daniel Robbins. Distributing pharmaceutical products by covered wagon to 17 states and territories from Vermont to California.

    1855: Became one of the first wholesale firms to manufacture drugs. The company’s fluid extracts, tinctures, pills and tablets won medals for its pioneering work.

  • 1900s–1980s

    Expanding Horizons

    1900s: Persuaded several wholesalers to its subsidiaries, forming a national drug wholesaling company and becoming the leading distributor of pharmaceutical drug products.

    1929: Achieved unprecedented sales million and sustains steady growth despite the Great Depression.

    1960s: Merged with Foremost Dairies to form Foremost-McKesson Inc. becoming the largest U.S. distributor of pharmaceutical drugs, alcoholic beverages and chemicals.

  • 1980s–1990s

    Early Pioneers

    1990's: Decided to focus more on health care by divesting unrelated businesses and acquired General Medical, the largest distributor of medical-surgical supplies.

    1993: Pioneered Acumax™, a proprietary barcode warehouse-management solution, and received the Computerworld Smithsonian Award for information technology innovation.

    1998: Acquired HBO & Company and operated for a time as McKesson HBOC — the world’s largest health care services company.

  • 2000s–Today

    McKesson Today

    2010: Acquired US Oncology, becoming the second-largest specialty company.

    2013: Announced CommonWell Health Alliance™, a collaborative effort among health IT suppliers that supports universal access to health care data through interoperability.

    2014: Acquired Celesio to become a global health care leader moving its ranking to 11th on the FORTUNE 500 with more than $179 billion in annual revenue.