Under chief executive Steve Collis, AmerisourceBergen has tried to broaden its business beyond that of an anonymous but huge pharmaceutical wholesaler. That manifested itself in a $250,000 donation to build a pharmacy that opens Saturday at Project HOME's Stephen Klein Wellness Center in North Philadelphia.
Project HOME's mission is to break the cycle of poverty afflicting many people in the city, and affordable health care is one element of that. "Our new pharmacy, made possible through the AmerisourceBergen Foundation, is key in our effort to provide quality health care and wellness for the second-poorest zip code in Philadelphia," Sister Mary Scullion, executive director of Project HOME, said in a statement.
The wellness center opened this year as a partnership among Project HOME, developer Stephen Klein, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, the Jefferson Medical College department of family and community medicine, and the Middleton Partnership, guided by Phillies co-owner John Middleton and his wife, Leigh.
AmerisourceBergen is based in Valley Forge. Collis and human resources Chief June Barry were looking for a local project to launch the foundation, and both knew Sister Mary. "You're not able to open a full-scale health-care facility without a pharmacy," Barry said. Barry will run the company foundation, and the initial donation includes $26,000 worth of over-the-counter products such as ointments, bandages, and vitamins. Meanwhile, she said, 120 of the company's local employees will volunteer to help the city during Pope Francis' visit in September.
AmerisourceBergen is No. 16 on the Fortune 500 list, with $119.6 billion in revenue in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2014. By that measure, the company is larger than any of the drugmakers whose products it buys and distributes, but it is less well-known because of its place in the supply chain.
Collis, who works from company offices in Conshohocken, wants a more public image because he says that would help attract talent, the independent pharmacists in its Good Neighbor Pharmacy program who like to think of themselves as "locally loved," and it shows the increasing scope of the company.
AmerisourceBergen, Collis said, acts like a "banker" in managing more than $10 billion a month in payments, a "storefront" for 60,000 customers, a "selector" of 1.5 million products, a "guardian" against fraudulent activity, and a helper of worldwide clinical testing through its World Courier subsidiary.
"It's too simplistic," Collis said, "to think of us strictly as a middleman."