Mercury Drug Corporation is the Philippines’ dominant pharmacy group. The Quezon City-based company operates a national chain of more than 450 drugstores, including company-owned and franchised stores. Mercury Drug is estimated to sell as much as 60 percent of all medicines sold each year in the Philippines (the country’s hospitals sell about 12 percent of medicine. Mercury Drug’s pharmacies follow the American model, combining drug and medical equipment sales with over-the-counter medicines, personal care items, basic household needs, cosmetic sand other beauty products, and the like.
Most of the company’s stores also are equipped to store and sell serums, blood plasma, albumin, and similar biologically active medical products. In addition to its drugstores, Mercury operates a chain of Mercury Drug Superstores. Generally attached to the company’s pharmacies, the Mercury Drug Superstores extend the group’s assortment to include convenience store and fast-food items.
By the mid-2000s, Mercury Drug Corporation operated more than 150 Mercury Drug Superstores. Founded by Mariano Que, who first sold pills from a pushcart in the 1940s, Mercury Drug Corporation remains a privately held company. Leadership of the company also remains in the family: The company’s president is Mariano Que’s daughter, Vivian Que-Ascoma. Mercury Drug subsidiary the Mercury Group of Companies, which governs other Que family interests, including the 10*Q convenience store chain and the Tropical Hut fast-food group. In 2003, Mercury Drug’s revenues amounted to nearly PHP 43 billion ($8.
8 billion). Mariano Que started his career working in a Manila drugstore in prewar Philippines. There he encountered many medications, including the newly discovered class of sulfa drugs, including sulfathiazole. These new drugs, developed by German scientists in the early 1930s, were quickly hailed as new “miracle” drugs. Indeed, the sulfa drugs enabled the treatment of many illnesses, such as pneumonia, gonorrhea, and other bacterial infections, that previously had been difficult, if impossible, to treat. Even though the sulfa drugs later were shown to have several undesirable side effects (they formed deposits in the kidneys, and bacteria quickly became resistant), they were credited with saving millions of lives around the world through World War Ianthe end of the war and the liberation of the Philippines by U.S.
forces brought new business opportunities in the country. During the occupation, supplies of medicines had become scarce, and the immediate postwar period saw a surge in demand for sulfa drugs, and sulfathiazole, considered by many to be a virtual cure-all. With most of the country’s businesses, including its pharmacies, destroyed during the war, much of the country’s trade shifted to its busy marketplaces. Mariano Que, inspired by the new entrepreneurial spirit, used his drugstore experience to launch his own business. This concept paper includes the Mercury Drug mission statement, stores success and innovations.