Trump Administration picks McKesson for coronavirus vaccine distribution

Brian Tyler, CEO of McKesson, speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 29, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Friday that McKesson Corp MCK.N would be the central distributor for future coronavirus vaccines, sending the U.S. drug distributor's shares up more than 3%.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is executing an existing contract option with McKesson to support vaccine distribution, the health department said.

The HHS said the contract, which includes an option to distribute vaccines in the event of a pandemic, was awarded to McKesson as part of a competitive bidding process in 2016.

Detailed planning is underway to ensure rapid distribution as soon as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes one or more vaccines, the HHS said.

McKesson is the largest distributor of seasonal flu vaccines in the United States.

The U.S. has no approved vaccine for the new coronavirus pandemic, and drugmakers including AstraZeneca AZN.L, Moderna Inc MRNA.O and Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N are testing their experimental vaccines under accelerated timelines.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva