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United Drug Founded

The United Drug Chemical Co. was established in 1948, in the small Irish town of Ballina, by a group of pharmacists determined to find a more reliable supply of medicines.



The first big victory came in 1950, when the pharmacists convinced Parke-Davis (which later became Pfizer) to bypass uncooperative Dublin wholesalers and supply them directly from London. The agreement set the scene for further expansion along the west coast of Ireland.

1960 – 70

Purchase of Ayrton Saunders

In the late 1960s and early 1970s – a time of great upheaval for healthcare in Ireland – United Drug acquired a foothold in Dublin with the purchase of Ayrton Saunders. It meant we became a national distributer, competing on a much larger scale.

1976 – 1986


The next three decades saw further expansion and innovation. In 1976 we became the first company in Ireland to run all systems by computer. In 1986 we offered the first overnight service to pharmacists.



In 1989, newly listed on the Irish Stock Market, we established UniDrug Distribution Group, a joint venture with Alliance Healthcare. The company became the UK’s market-leading pre-wholesaler.



United Drug Sangers was originally known as Thomas McMullan and Co., a retail pharmacy that opened in Belfast in 1860. The name was changed to Sangers (Northern Ireland) Ltd in the early 1980s, and the company joined the United Drug Group in 1992


Dublin Drug

It meant that, for the first time, we were able to distribute over the whole of Ireland. In 1999 we joined forces with Dublin Drug – a move that saw us become the largest Irish wholesaler in the market. Today we’re known as United Drug and our ambition is to keep improving, to expand into niche areas of specialist distribution and to continue to grow our share of the market.

April 2016


On 1st April 2016 United Drug was formally acquired by global pharmaceutical distribution company, McKesson.

We are now part of the largest pharmaceutical distribution company in the globe who share a common vision, and have the international expertise together with huge and diverse business capabilities in the healthcare arena.

In McKesson, we have found a partner to bring our business to the next level. Being part of a global healthcare company allows us to access a wealth of new skills and services that deliver further benefits to the pharmacy community across Ireland and drive growth and profitability in the sector.

Although we have a new parent company, our values, people and ethos remain the same, and we remain committed to continuing to provide you with the same great service and support as always.