At McKesson, we take our role in helping to protect the safety and integrity of the pharmaceutical supply chain extremely seriously.


The opioid epidemic is a complicated, multi-faceted public health crisis, and media reports often contain oversimplifications and lack important context. For more details and FAQs, please visit our Media Response tab.


Each day, our distribution team delivers life-saving medicines to pharmacies, hospitals and clinics that serve millions of Americans. We take to heart that each and every item delivered – every pill bottle, every vial, every ointment – reaches a patient in need. We know that it’s not just a package, it’s a patient.

Over the past decade, as the opioid epidemic evolved rapidly, we enhanced our teams, processes and technologies dedicated to preventing diversion. We are committed to maintaining – and continuously enhancing – strong programs designed to detect and prevent opioid diversion within the pharmaceutical supply chain, while also protecting the availability of appropriate treatments for patients with serious illnesses and injuries.

This complicated, multi-faceted public health crisis must be addressed through a comprehensive and collaborative approach. Each participant in the pharmaceutical supply chain can play an important role, including:

  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has regulatory oversight for all DEA-registrants (doctors, pharmacists, distributors) sets yearly quotas for the volume of opioids that can be manufactured, and has exclusive access to the ARCOS information that can help identify over-prescribing and pharmacies filling an excessive number of opioid prescriptions.
  • Drug manufacturers that design, develop and promote the medication
  • Healthcare providers who prescribe the medication
  • Pharmacists who dispense the medication
  • Private and public health insurance groups that determine what they will pay for
  • State medical and pharmacy boards that oversee the doctors and pharmacies in their jurisdiction
  • Distributors that deliver medications ordered by pharmacists to fill prescriptions written by doctors

Today, we are working with others to advance a series of company initiatives focused on helping to address the opioid epidemic, support the formation of a foundation dedicated to combating the crisis, offer thoughtful public policy recommendations – including the Prescription Safety-Alert System (RxSAS) technology proposal – and to support innovative programs and partnerships that we believe can have a meaningful impact on this challenging issue. We are committed to engaging with all who share our dedication to acting with urgency to address this epidemic and working together to end this national crisis. We encourage you to click through to the tabs above to learn more about our response to the opioid crisis.

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