United States clears health-service firms' deal

Well being insurer Cigna Corp's (CI.N) $fifty two billion acquisition of pharmacy advantages supervisor Specific Scripts Retaining Co has passed USA 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. The companies said they have also been cleared by departments of insurance in 16 states and are working with regulators in other states.

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

In particular, the agency said the merger would not lessen competition in the sale of PBM services because Cigna's in-house PBM business is small and at least two other large PBMs and several smaller ones remain in the market.

"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 deal combines a health insurer and a company that helps negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs in the form of rebates on behalf of health plans. The majority of the cost savings that result from the tie-up will flow to customers and not shareholders, Cordani has said.

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Cigna, one of the US's largest health insurers, announced the deal in March, offering $48.75 per share in cash for Express Scripts.

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. The deal is described as a "vertical merger", meaning it involves companies at different points in the supply chain that do not directly compete for customers.

Cigna's deal for Express Scripts came on the heels of CVS Health Corp.'s $68 billion deal to buy insurer Aetna Inc., which is still under review. CVS and Aetna shares also rose, closing up 1.5 percent and 1 percent, respectively. The $54 billion price tag was a 31% premium to Express Scripts' stock price at the time, and included about $15 billion worth of Express Scripts' debt.

Cigna said it looked to buy a pharmacy benefit manager because the pharmacy benefit is used nearly twice as frequently as the next closest health care benefit and represents about 20 percent of employer-based insurance benefits.

Express Scripts at the time was concerned about continuing as a standalone PBM when so many competitors were consolidating and new entrants like Amazon were rumored to be scoping out the healthcare market. Cigna shares closed up 1.four p.c.

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