ALPHARETTA, GA. — Per-Se Technologies, a provider of financial and administrative healthcare solutions for the medical and pharmaceutical industries, is being acquired by McKesson Corporation in a deal worth $1.8 billion.

McKesson, which is based in San Francisco, said it would pay $28 per share for Per-Se stock and assume all Per-Se debt.

The deal was announced before the stock markets opened Monday morning.

Per-Se (NASDAQ: PSTI) shares closed at $24.45 on Friday. McKesson shares (NYSE: MCK) traded at $48.52.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.
McKesson said the combined companies would form a “leader solving the clinical, financial and business process challenges facing healthcare today.”

Per-Se, which was founded in 1985, already works with some 100,000 physicians in small practices plus 17,000 physicians affiliated with hospitals, 3,000 hospitals and 50,000 pharmacies.

“Per-Se expands our customer base with products and services that augment and strengthen McKesson’s solutions portfolio,” said John Hammergren, chairman and chief executive officer of McKesson, in a statement. “An increasingly complex reimbursement environment, a rapidly emerging market for physician office software, and the continued need for products and services to help our retail pharmacy customers compete more effectively and profitably, all create opportunities for McKesson to accelerate future growth. Per-Se’s highly regarded products and services strengthen our position in each of these key areas while also providing valuable scale.”

The combined company will more than double McKesson’s transaction processing services to an estimated $300 billion in billed charges per year.

McKesson is the largest drug distributor in the U.S.

Per-Se employs some 6,000 people and produced $580 million in revenues in 2005.