Walgreens and Alliance Boots have a signed a 10-year buying deal with North American pharmaceutical distributor AmerisourceBergen to increase the three companies’ economies of scale in wholesaling.

The agreement, which builds on Walgreens’ existing partnership with AmerisourceBergen, will enable the three companies to benefit from greater buying power and they will work together to improve service levels and efficiencies.

The move will further build on the tie-up between Walgreens and Alliance Boots, which will eventually result in a merger of the two health and beauty giants.

It is expected to substantially change the pharmaceutical market in North America.

It will enable Walgreens and Alliance Boots to acquire a 7% share in AmerisourceBergen and appoint a board member to the business with the option to buy a further 16% in the form of warrants by 2017 and appoint a second board member.

Walgreens president and chief executive Gregory Wasson said: “We believe this relationship will create a wide range of opportunities and innovations in the rapidly changing US and global health care environment that we expect will benefit all of our stakeholders.

“Today’s announcement marks another step forward in establishing an unprecedented and efficient global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing network and achieving our vision of becoming the first choice in health and daily living for everyone in America and beyond.”

In addition there is potential for the three businesses to collaborate on products and services. It is also hoped the deal will open up new opportunities with partners in new and existing markets for the retail giants across the world.

AmerisourceBergen has a 28% share of the independent pharmacists in the US, therefore bringing incremental customers into the business.

Alliance Boots executive chairman Stefano Pessina said: “We strongly believe that our new partnership with AmerisourceBergen will deliver long-term shareholder value by creating an unmatched network of companies that is well positioned to anticipate increasing market needs and expectations across the world.

“Together we will bring tailored solutions to business partners, including manufacturers and pharmacists, as well as to patients and consumers.”