KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

FTC Approval Of Express Scripts-Medco Merger Triggers New Battlegrounds

Drug stores and community pharmacists have pledged to fight on in the courts, but some consumer advocates see a silver lining in the merger.

Arizona Republic: Express Scripts Cleared For Merger With Medco
The Federal Trade Commission on Monday approved the $29.1 billion merger of pharmaceutical giants Medco and Express Scripts, one of the largest private employers in Tempe. The FTC's 3-1 vote clearing Express Scripts' acquisition of Medco followed an eight-month investigation into the effects the merger would have on the industry (Rodriguez, 4/2).

CQ HealthBeat: FTC Allows Pharmacy Benefit Manager Merger, But the Battle Rages On
Pharmacists and retailers vowed to keep fighting in the courts following Monday's announcement that the Federal Trade Commission voted 3-1 to close an investigation into the Express Scripts-Medco merger after finding that it will not "substantially lessen competition" among pharmacy benefit managers. The high-profile $29 billion deal combining the two PBM giants has been strongly opposed by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Community Pharmacists Association (Norman, 4/2).

NPR Shots Blog: As Health Care Giants Merge, Pharmacies Aren't Happy
Express Scripts sealed its long-planned deal to buy Medco Health Solutions on Monday after the Federal Trade Commission voted 3-1 that it would not stifle competition in the industry. The two companies already provide prescription drug benefit services to some 135 million people -- more than 1 out of every 3 Americans. But while the FTC might not think the $29 billion union of Express Scripts and Medco threatens the market for how prescription drugs are distributed to patients, owners of brick-and-mortar drugstores certainly do (Rovner, 4/2).

Politico Pro: Groups See Silver Lining In PBM Fight
Consumer advocates who fought the merger of Express Scripts and Medco have found a silver lining in the FTC's drawn-out investigation of the deal, even though the agency ultimately voted to let it go through. "It has really forced [pharmacy benefit managers] to come out of the shadows a little bit, and now there's serious national scrutiny," said Sharon Treat, a state legislator in Maine and president of the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices (Norman, 4/3).

The Hill: Senate Judiciary Republican Lauds FTC Approval Of Medco Merger
The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary antitrust panel on Monday applauded the Federal Trade Commission's approval of the merger between pharmacy benefit managers Medco Health Solutions and Express Scripts. More than 80 lawmakers of both parties had raised concerns that the merger would lead to fewer choices for patients. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), however, said antitrust regulators made the right choice (Pecquet, 4/2).

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