KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Federal Trade Commission OKs $29 Billion Merger By Express Scripts, Medco

By a three-to-one vote, regulators approved Express Scripts' plan to purchase Medco, ending an eight-month inquiry into whether the deal would stifle competition in the pharmacy benefits industry.

Bloomberg: Express Scripts, Medco Win Approval For $29 Billion Deal
Express Scripts Inc. (ESRX)'s $29.1 billion bid for rival drug benefit manager Medco Health Solutions Inc. (MHS) won unconditional approval from U.S. antitrust regulators, clearing the way for the biggest manager of prescription-drug benefits for corporate and government clients. The FTC's decision, which was approved by a three-to-one vote of the commissioners, enables St. Louis-based Express Scripts to complete the purchase of Medco of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. The FTC said its eight-month investigation "revealed a competitive market for pharmacy benefit management services characterized by numerous, vigorous competitors who are expanding and winning business from traditional market leaders," in an e-mailed statement (Forden and Bliss, 4/2).

The New York Times: FTC Approves Express Scripts-Medco Deal
Regulators have given their blessing for Express Scripts to buy Medco Health Solutions, the final hurdle in a $29 billion deal that has created the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits provider. The Federal Trade Commission voted 3-1 to approve the acquisition on Monday, ending an eight-month inquiry into whether the deal would stifle competition in the pharmacy benefits industry. The agency’s approval marks the closing of one of the largest deals of 2011, and one that was subjected to a bevy of antitrust concerns (Roose, 4/2).

The Hill: Federal Regulators Approve Pharmacy Benefit Manager Merger Despite Congressional Objections
Federal antitrust regulators on Monday approved a $29 billion merger creating the nation's largest manager of prescription drug benefits despite widespread congressional objections. Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions immediately announced the completion of their merger after the Federal Trade Commission gave its approval. More than 80 members of Congress, lobbied by pharmacies in their districts, have weighed in against the merger and  raised concerns that it could lead to fewer choices for consumers (Pecquet, 4/2).

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