Mercury Drug: Bringing Affordable Medicines to the Philippines

Anyone in the medical profession will readily agree that health care and pharmaceuticals are at the top tier of the world’s highest-earning industries, generating billions of dollars yearly. And why not, when millions of people worldwide need medical care and attention daily? While some of the largest and most recognized names in health care can be found in Western countries, Asia is not far behind. Mercury Drug in the Philippines is the country’s largest and farthest-reaching pharmacy chain, and is one of the most established in Southeast Asia.

Mercury Drug was founded in 1945 in Sta. Cruz, Manila by Chinese businessman Mariano Que. Named after the messenger god in Roman mythology whose caduceus is a widely known symbol for medicine, Mercury Drug started out as just one small drugstore on a small street. Mariano Que began operations by cutting bulk medicines into single pieces, selling these out of a pushcart to customers who could not afford to buy a whole mat or who only needed a few pieces at a time, before opening the first store.

Mercury Drug slowly began gaining traction in the pharmaceuticals business and by 1963, was able to open a second branch in Makati City. Two years later, the company built its most attractive site to date, Mercury Drug at the Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, Manila. Now with its headquarters in Bagumbayan, Quezon City, Mercury Drug holds the lion’s share of medicine sales in the Philippines at an estimated 60% through its over 700 drugstore branches spread out throughout the archipelago.

Following the American drugstore model, Mercury Drug sells drugs, medical equipment, personal care items, cosmetics, basic household items and similar medical products all in a single store. Some of the larger Mercury Drug Superstores incorporate convenience stores in the pharmacies, selling snacks and drinks. Leadership and ownership of Mercury Drug has remained in the Que family, with Vivian Que-Ascona now sitting as company president.