Cigna-Express Scripts deal gets US antitrust approval

Cigna CEO David Cordani

Well being insurer Cigna Corp's (CI.N) $fifty two billion acquisition of pharmacy advantages supervisor Specific Scripts Retaining Co has passed US antitrust scrutiny, the companies acknowledged on Monday, allowing them to proceed with a combination they train will lead to lower funds by better coordinating pharmacy and medical advantages.

In its ruling, the DOJ stated that the Cigna-Express merger is "unlikely to result in harm to competition or consumer".

Insurers, pharmacy-benefits managers and others in the health care supply chain have been making deals to streamline expenses and gain scale in an industry threatened by rising costs for medical services and new competition from the technology sector.

The Justice Department said it cleared the deal after a six-month investigation. The US Department of Justice has approved Cigna's $54 billion purchase of the pharmacy benefits management company. The majority of the cost savings that result from the tie-up will flow to customers and not shareholders, Cordani has said. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

The Department of Justice's antitrust review of CVS Health's $69 billion bid for Aetna is taking longer due to divestitures needed to ensure competition is not impeded, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

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Aetna and Cigna, however, were determined to seek growth through deals while responding to a changing healthcare landscape, eventually targeting mergers with the nation's largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Those were Aetna's plan to acquire smaller US health insurer Humana Inc (HUM.N) for $37 billion, and a planned $54 billion combination of insurers Anthem Inc (ANTM.N) and Cigna.

"PBMs have come under fire from both the drug industry and President Trump, and the administration is considering completely eliminating the current rebate system as a way to bring down the cost of prescription drugs", he continues.

Cigna and Express Scripts said in a press release that they have received approval from 16 state insurance departments and are working with regulators in the other states to get the necessary approval.

Cigna shares closed up 1.4 percent at $197.84, while Express Scripts shares closed up 3.7 percent at $95.23.

Cigna and Express Scripts issued a joint statement saying that the DOJ's antitrust division has terminated the waiting period for the merger and that they continue to expect it to close by the end of the year. CVS and Aetna shares also rose, closing up 1.5 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Federal antitrust enforcers have not successfully blocked a vertical merger in decades, and a federal judge in June cleared the vertical deal between Time Warner and AT&T after the Justice Department challenged it, which boded well for Cigna and Express Scripts' chances.

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