Cigna gets DOJ approval to buy St. Louis based Express Scripts

Office workstation top view of business people working around M&A keyboard calculator phablet and money on wooden table- merger and acquisition concept

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.

While the federal antitrust division will not seek to block the merger, the deal is still subject to state regulators and various departments of insurance.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has said it is looking at how so-called industry middlemen and pharmacies such as Express Scripts and CVS impact drug costs for U.S. consumers. The merger is unlikely to lessen competition substantially in the sale of PBM services because Cigna's PBM business nationwide is small, the DOJ stated.

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

Officials at Bloomfield, Conn. -based Cigna and St. Louis-based Express Scripts have said their merger would drive higher quality care and affordability by offering insurance and pharmacy services under one roof. If the deal's closing conditions are met, the companies said that they expect the acquisition to close by the end of the year.

The Justice Department's approval of the Cigna-Express Scripts deal did not come as a shock.

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Cigna previously attempted to merge with rival insurer Anthem, but the Justice Department challenged the $54 billion deal for threatening to harm competition for the administrative services business of large employers.

As reported by Healthcare Informatics Managing Editor Rajiv Leventhal back in April, the CVS-Aetna deal came nearly a full year after a federal judge blocked a merger that would have resulted in Aetna acquiring the Louisville, Ky. -based Humana, which at the time was the largest acquisition of its type in the history of health insurance in the US, reported at $37 billion.

Ana Gupte, an analyst at Leerink Partners, said approval of the Express Scripts deal is a positive sign for CVS and Aetna.

Cigna's purchase of Express Scripts comes as PBMs' role in prescription drug costs has come under scrutiny.

Cigna overcame a last-minute effort by activist investor Carl Icahn to nix the deal, warning fellow shareholders in an early-August open letter that the deal was among the "worst acquisitions in corporate history".

"Both companies argue that the merger will benefit consumers by allowing Cigna and Express Scripts to better manage their customers' health by sharing information about both their medical and drug expenses". "The value that we deliver together will help put our society on a far more sustainable path - one that helps health care professionals close gaps in care and supports our customers along their health journey".

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